Men and women over the age of 50 have unique psychological, physical, and spiritual needs that require tailored care in a rehabilitation environment. Older adults may not recognize that they need addiction treatment, which often means that loved ones will need to identify the problem and stage an intervention. Once they have been successfully persuaded, seniors should seek treatment in the form of medical detox, residential rehab, or an outpatient program.
Addiction recovery programs should take many factors into account. These include one’s physical health, mental wellbeing, gender, history of trauma, family background, and the details surrounding one’s substance use. Many things can drive someone to turn to drugs and alcohol, and no one is immune to addiction. It is a disease that does not discriminate; it can affect anyone at any time.
Some people may have noticed their loved one’s substance use increasing over time or spiraling out of control in the wake of a traumatic life event, such as the death of a loved one, loss of income, or a decline in health. If your loved one has experienced one or many of these issues, it is advisable to check in with them frequently and keep an eye on their substance use moving forward. Many people believe that their family member’s problem isn’t severe enough to bring up, when in fact it is recommended to intervene as soon as you suspect that anything is remotely amiss. Addiction is most effectively combated with prompt intervention and professional care.
Recovery programming should address:
- Age-specific addiction issues related to one’s health, mental clarity, family, social circle, financials, career, and more.
- Physical concerns of older adults, such as chronic pain, addiction-related health issues, nutrition, activity levels, and medication management.
- The stigma of addiction and the importance of creating a renewed sense of meaning in one’s life.
- The establishment of a sober support network of one’s peers.
Identifying Addiction in the Older Population
It can be more complex to recognize a chemical dependency in adults as they age. This is partially due to the social isolation that develops at this stage of life. They may live alone – if family members are far from home, it can be difficult to keep tabs on a loved one. Those who are over 65 may have retired from the workforce, meaning that their daily activity level and number of personal contacts are likely to have shifted dramatically. To make matters even more complicated, there is a generally pervasive belief that elderly people are entitled to their vices of choice; people don’t want to take these substances away and alter their loved one’s quality of life.
However, prolonged alcohol and drug use creates a unique set of problems for older adults. The physical changes inherent to aging make people more susceptible to the effects of substance use – at the same time, tolerance levels plummet, metabolism slows, and other health problems have probably begun to arise. The use of mind-altering substances can also be hazardous in other ways: the risk of falling and seriously injuring oneself, for example, or possible interactions with prescribed medications for other conditions.
You should also look for these signs in your elderly loved one:
- Memory problems
- Delirium or seeming out of touch
- Changes in sleeping or eating habits
- Change in mood: irritability, depression
- Mysterious bruises
- Social isolation and a desire to be alone often
- Losing touch with loved ones
- Poor personal hygiene (“scruffy” appearance)
- Significant weight loss and ill-fitting clothes
- Lack of interest in once-loved activities
Addiction Treatment for Seniors
Since our founding in 1984, Lakeside-Milam has helped over 100,000 people of all ages to experience the miracle of recovery. Our team of highly trained addiction specialists will work with you to create a treatment plan tailored to your loved one’s needs. It’s never too late to get your life back – call 800-231-4303 to learn more about our individualized treatment programs.