Growing older comes with significant physical and emotional challenges. Many older adults struggle to cope with loved ones’ deaths or find themselves frustrated by new or worsening physical limitations, which could leave them unable to get out of the house as much as they used to.
These issues can leave older adults uniquely vulnerable to mental and behavioral health issues, including substance abuse. Though people aged 55 and up may have many years ahead of them, addiction and other illnesses can cause a sharp decline in their quality of life and leave them unable to age gracefully. If you are worried about your loved ones’ health as they grow older, here are some factors to consider.
Substance Abuse Among Older Adults
Older adults with substance use disorders fall into two categories.
- Those who have successfully hidden a drug or alcohol problem since they were younger
- Those who have developed a substance dependency later in life
People in the first category may increase their drinking or drug use to manage the stresses associated with aging. People in the second might inadvertently become addicted to prescription medications such as opioids and benzodiazepines, especially if they accidentally take more than their doctor prescribed or combine their meds with alcohol.
Either way, the problem is undeniable. With age, the ability to process and metabolize alcohol or drugs declines. Therefore, it takes much less of these substances to cause significant impairment. Additionally, retirees can progress more rapidly with a chemical dependency if they have more free time and fewer people around to notice they might need help.
Health Problems We See in Older Adults
Men are notorious for ignoring concerning symptoms and neglecting to visit the doctor for regular check-ups. Men who self-medicate with alcohol and drugs instead of seeking qualified medical attention can quickly develop physical and mental health conditions alongside a substance use disorder.
While many warning signs of these problems are the same across the generations, some may change as a person ages, which can make potential issues more challenging to spot. Further complicating the matter is that some signs of drug abuse mimic symptoms of other age-related health issues. For example, frequent falls and a lack of coordination could signify the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, while paranoia and suspicion are common among people with memory issues like dementia.
Men’s health is vital at every stage of life, whether they are in their 50s, 60s or beyond. If you are a loved one or caretaker of a man in this age range and have concerns about substance abuse and other health issues, time is of the essence. Attending to these health problems in older adults can help them live longer, more joyful lives surrounded by friends and family members.
California Older Adult Addiction Treatment Program
Thousands of older adults who need treatment do not receive it. At Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat, we aim to change this. We are one of the few facilities nationwide that has created programming specifically to cater to the needs of older adults aged 55 and up. As an ASAM Level 4 hospital, we are equipped to treat mental, physical and behavioral health problems all under one roof.
Our clients flourish in an intimate, age-specific and non-confrontational peer group. They find comfort and convenience in daily visits from our medical doctor. Additionally, our single-story floor plan makes it easy to get around, which is a boon for people experiencing chronic pain or weakness. If you are worried about an older adult in your life and don’t know how to help, please contact us today.