Category: Retirees

What to do when your parent turns to drugs or alcohol? Part 3 of 3

Last week, we began our three-part blog series on the increase of substance abuse in our senior population. To recap the first two blogs, we addressed reasons why we are seeing an increase of substance abuse in the senior population (stress, boredom, comfortable taking medications, etc.) and warning signs of substance abuse (falls, change in attitude, increasing the amount of medication taken, multiple doctors/pharmacies, etc.). Today, we’ll discuss the sensitive topic of speaking to your parent if you suspect a problem.

For most people, certain topics are hard to discuss with your parents. When you raised kids, you likely grappled with the dreaded talk about drugs with them. Now, it’s your turn to have “the talk” with the person who raised you. This could go easier than you may expect. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind.

1 – Make sure they know you are not judging them, but concerned for their well-being.
2 – Don’t be confrontational, be supportive.
3 – Speak to the individual before they start drinking – maybe in the morning.
4 – Do not dig up problems from the past – your focus is on now and the future.
5 – Be direct, do not coddle them. Speak to them as a peer.
6 – Approaching the topic may need to be done in steps.

Here are a few examples of how to get things started.

1 –“I noticed that you have a lot of prescriptions you take daily. Can you tell me what each one is and how it helps you? This gives you an opportunity to assess their situation and its good information to know should they ever be hospitalized.” If you see multiple and/or high dosage painkillers, inquire if this is safe and healthy. We often hear, especially in the senior population, “the medication must be safe, the doctor prescribed it.” When a person has multiple doctors and specialists for varying ailments, communication between medical professionals does not always exist. Each will prescribe medications for specific concerns, but when combined, the medications can interact causing a negative effect. Suggest accompanying the individual to the next medical appointment to see if the doctor can evaluate the combination of medications being taken. Reluctance to this idea could signal a red flag, but maintain a firm stand. Raise your concern that many of these medications are addictive, see if the doctor can scale back prescriptions and find alternate non-opioid treatments such as over-the-counter medications, exercise, and physical therapy.

2 – If the person is drinking excessively, let them know you are concerned. If you suspect it is the result of boredom, try to engage them in social activities where alcohol is not present. Remind them that drinking and taking medications can be very dangerous. If the problem persists, encourage them to speak to their doctor and attend the appointment if possible.

A few factors will make this process easier for you. Most seniors respect their doctors and are willing to follow medical advice. Surprisingly, most seniors will be happy to have your support and won’t be resistant to seeking help. Often, tolerance to drugs and/or alcohol decreases with age leaving them feeling “fuzzy” and confused. Feeling “normal” again will be welcomed.

Related Blog:  Communicating with Someone Who Has an Addiction

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.

What to do when your parent turns to drugs or alcohol? Part 2 of 3

Earlier this week, we began our three-part blog series on the increase of substance abuse in our senior population. To recap our first blog, we said so often, when we speak about addiction and finding help, we speak in terms of helping parents find help for their young-adult children. Periodically, we talk about getting help for your spouse. However, we seldom discuss what happens when it is time to find help for your parents. Part one discussed some of the reasons why addiction appears in older adults. Now, we will discuss warning signs that your parent may have a problem with drugs or alcohol.

Some of these will be easier to recognize than others based on how frequently you see your parents in person as opposed to having telephone conversations. These identifiers are often mistaken for other symptoms of aging. If you see these changes, be diligent and find out why these changes are occurring.

1 – Falls
2 – A change in appearance–looking unkempt
3 – Increased sleep
4 – Misplaced items (such as keys)
5 – Disinterest in regular activities
6 – Has their general attitude changed? Are they anxious, sullen or argumentative?
7 – Do they use multiple doctors and multiple pharmacies? Seniors are just as capable of doctor shopping as younger generations.
8 – Are they agitated or defensive if asked about their medications?
9 – Have they had a drastic increase in the amount of medication they take?
10 – Are they making excuses why they need more medication?

If your parent has surgery, ask what pain medications will be prescribed in the hospital and for post-op care at home. Check to make sure these medications will not offset or negatively affect medications prescribed for other issues. Be involved with the post-op pain management plan. Question the medical staff about the type of medication (opioid vs. Tylenol) and dosage.

Our next blog will explore speaking to your parent about drug or alcohol abuse and treatment options.

Related blog:  A Simple Explanation of Addiction.

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.

 

What to do when your parent turns to drugs or alcohol? Part 1 of 3

So often, when we speak about addiction and finding help, we speak in terms of helping parents find help for their young-adult children. Periodically, we talk about getting help for your spouse. However, we seldom discuss what happens when it is time to find help for your parents. This three-part series will explain why substance abuse is prevalent among our senior population, how to recognize when a parent is abusing drugs and finally, how to approach them about seeking help.

Very quietly, over the past several years, more and more, older adults are turning to drugs and alcohol for comfort and becoming dependent on these substances. Nearly 10,000 individuals are turning 65 on a daily basis and many are retiring, which compounds the issue. Here are a few reasons why our seniors and retirees are abusing drugs/alcohol.

1 – Many of us are “used” to taking medication for a variety of medical issues as well as aches and pains. As we age, the number of pills we take daily also tends to increase. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for seniors to increase the number of highly-addictive opioid painkillers they are taking, or turn to alcohol to numb their physical pain.

2 – Just like younger generations, substance abuse can be triggered by a stressor. In seniors, the most common stressors are financial or health concerns, the strain of being a caregiver to another ailing family member or the death of a spouse.

3 – Boredom is also a common thread among seniors who abuse alcohol. Empty nesters without the support of nearby family, limited financial means and limited or few hobbies can translate to boredom for many retirees. If someone is accustomed to having happy hour with friends after work, the happy hour may start at home much earlier in the day.

If you have a parent who will soon be retiring, ask them about their social and financial plans for retirement. If they don’t have a plan, encourage them to pick up hobbies or do volunteer work to help keep them active and engaged with other individuals.

Related Blog:  Addiction and Family

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.