Seniors advised on handling, managing opioids safely in the home
SNOHOMISH — Homage Senior Services led a discussion at the Snohomish Senior Center on opioid abuse geared for elders on Jan. 18.
Presenter Jennifer Taylor is a state-certified substance abuse disorder specialist with Homage.
“People often think of heroin when they think of opioid abuse,” Taylor said, noting that patients should be aware of when their doctor prescribes an opioid or narcotic. She encourages people of all ages to ask questions and advocate for their health during the short time you typically get with your doctor.
“Medication compliance is crucial, yet managing medication can be especially challenging for seniors,” said Homage Senior Services’ Mental Health Programs Supervisor, Nancy Brosemer. “Seniors are often prescribed a vast array of medication, not just pain meds. They can find it hard to read prescription labels and instructions, or they forget that they took their medication and thus may take a double dose — or they may wind up not taking it at all. Through our program, we educate seniors about the proper use of medication and the dangers of misusing prescriptions, let them know that they have the right to ask questions about their medication, and to communicate any concerns they may have about their prescriptions. We also share critical information on recognizing side effects, understanding addiction, and how to properly store and dispose of their medication.”
Taylor stressed the importance of not giving your prescription medications to others or taking prescriptions that are not yours, and also advised how to prevent theft.
“Don’t store your narcotics in the bathroom or the medicine cabinet,” Taylor said. Those locations are most commonly searched by people visiting your home or by thieves breaking in. Another way to keep medications safe is to put them in a lockbox hidden away from view.
The opioid Fentanyl is now the leading cause of death among 18 to 45-year-olds, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It’s a statistic that may be hard to take. Still, the risk of opioid abuse in America from street drugs like Fentanyl and prescription narcotics is at an all-time high.
Senior center member Issy Olivia said she feels fortunate that her children are now in their 50s, and Fentanyl was not prevalent when she raised them. Olivia recently read the statistic on Fentanyl deaths.
“My motivation for coming was hearing (the news about Fentanyl) and wanting to know more about how that affects people my age and what we can do to protect ourselves,” Olivia said.
Fentanyl has been found laced with street drugs and counterfeit prescription drugs in recent years.
Adults 65 and older have had a gradual increase in opioid deaths from prescription use, but there has been a 53% increase from synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl between 2019-2020, according to the CDC.
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