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Substance Abuse among Elders




One of the most common issues that can cause health complications in older adults is the overuse of substances, whether it be something as mundane as Tylenol or Advil, or something more serious, such as alcohol or painkilling medication. Though we most often hear about substance abuse in the context of younger or middle-aged people in society, it is increasingly common for elders to self-medicate or become addicted to harmful substances.

One of the benefits of a Geriatric Care Manager is the thorough and comprehensive assessment that is completed when first on-boarding a new client. As part of this assessment, the Geriatric Care Manager will both directly ask the client and their friends and family about substance abuse, as well as look for various signs of substance use issues that may not be immediately obvious at first glance. Issues such as difficulty waking up in the morning, unusual incontinence issues, among others, are all indicators of a substance problem.

But it’s not all bad news. As with those who overuse substances in younger and middle-aged demographics, elders have access to the same resources and strategies to help contain and control an abuse problem, whether at a point where the problem is just beginning, or in the later stages and throes of addiction. It’s not hopeless! Geriatric Care Managers have access to dozens of resources in the area for each of their clients, resources which can be non-obtrusive and private. In addition, many Geriatric Care Managers have a strong background in healthcare or are registered nurses in their own right, providing a level of expertise that is greatly suited to helping solve upcoming or current substance abuse issues.

Geriatric Care Managers are their clients’ ally. Whether acting as an advocate for a change in medication, or a second opinion from a specialist doctor, they act as concerned, experienced, and helpful advocates for their clients and their client’s families. This includes acting as an advocate for them in the light of substance abuse issues, from over-medicating with prescription medication to alcohol abuse to more serious substances, Geriatric Care Managers are responsible and qualified to handling and treating these substance abuse problems in a caring, professional, and comprehensive manner.

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