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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Nursing Home Addresses Elderly Addiction

In the United States, one of the fastest growing populations of addicts and alcoholics is the elderly. In 2009, the journal Addiction published a report which indicated that the number of Americans over 50 with substance abuse problems was expected to reach 5.7 million by 2020, double the 2006 figure, according to the Associated Press.

The reasons behind elderly substance abuse are varied, from problems with pain leading to opioid addiction, to alcohol problems resulting from idle time and loneliness. The loss of a spouse or close friends, coupled with retirement, leaves people alone and without purpose; seniors often turn to the bottle to find comfort and solace.

Pain is an unavoidable side-effect of getting older as our bodies begin to deteriorate; it is no secret that America is guilty of over-prescribing prescription narcotics. It can be difficult for doctors to deny elderly patients painkillers, even if they are showing signs of dependence.

Addressing the needs of the elderly often falls upon assisted living programs, such as nursing homes and retirement communities; places often unequipped to deal with addiction and dependence, especially on a large scale. Unfortunately, seniors rarely reach out for help regarding addiction and even in medical settings the elderly are not often screened for substance abuse.

Which is why, a nursing home in the Bronx has set out to address the problem, the AP reports. After a stay in the hospital, all patients 60 and older who come in for rehab at the Jewish Home Lifecare (JHL) nursing home are screened for addiction and offered a chance at recovery.

The JHL expects to get 480 patients a year and has set aside eight beds for patients that need assistance with addiction problems. Associate Administrator Gregory Poole-Dayan believes it's the first nursing home to integrate addiction recovery into medical rehabilitation.

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