Too many meds are one of the ways to recognize prescription medication abuse among seniors.

To recognize addiction in a senior is, without a doubt, a complex and unpleasant task. Still, with the proper knowledge, it is at least manageable. So, to help you help your loved ones, we’ve put together a guide on recognizing prescription medication abuse among seniors.

They insist on handling their medication

One of the most reliable ways to recognize prescription medication abuse among seniors is if they stubbornly insist on taking their meds on their own. Seniors typically appreciate help with such things since their age makes it more challenging to track medication schedules. If they react negatively to the idea of letting you arrange things for them, it can signify that they are secretly taking more meds than they should. If you recognize this behavior, try to hang around when they take their meds and surreptitiously check. Remember that an important part of taking care of seniors is not to be too confrontational. So, do not take further steps to address the problem until you are sure it exists. Reluctance to accept help can be a sign of refusing to accept that they need help in the first place after all.

Fear of going anywhere without extra medication

Another sign of prescription medication abuse among seniors is a fear of going anywhere without their meds. This is also pretty sound evidence that their addiction is getting worse. The sad part of the whole scenario is that their fear might stem from the fact that feeding their addiction might genuinely make them feel ‘better’. This is something a lot of seniors in chronic pain or suffering from debilitating conditions struggle with. There is no good solution if that’s the case, but it is always better to at least acknowledge the problem and mitigate it.

They take extra doses of their medication

Sometimes, prescription medication abuse can be pretty blatant. Seniors might outright claim that they need more meds and behave accordingly, whether it’s because of a belief that they ‘work better’ when they take them more often or just because ‘they feel better’ when they do. This can also signify that they don’t really know they have a medication abuse problem. They can be genuinely convinced that they need their medicine more frequently to feel better. This makes it especially difficult to act on the problem since they stubbornly resist any attempts to help them. The best choice can make in this scenario is to gently explain what’s happening to them. And, of course, to look for professional help to deal with the problem.

Sudden mood swings or periods of irritation

Intense irritation until they get another dose of medicine or random mood swings can be a way to recognize prescription medication abuse among seniors. Especially if you notice heightened aggression which is not typical for their behavior. And the main problem is that this particular sign can sneak up on you. Their behavior can slowly devolve, and it can be challenging to recognize if you spend a lot of time with them. Seniors with these symptoms are among some of the hardest to help since they are very confrontational and protective of their addiction. You may even be forced to consider moving a loved one into a nursing home as a response. If you can’t take care of them properly or help them, it is often better to let professionals do it.

They get evasive when the topic of medication is brought up

A pretty reliable way to recognize prescription medication abuse among seniors is if they refuse to talk about the subject of their medicine with you. You’d typically try this after noticing one of the other signs we’ve listed. And if you are quite likely to encounter heated resistance, whether the senior in question is or isn’t aware of the problem themselves, it indicates a more significant issue. If you want to help them, you must first break down their reluctance to confront their addiction. Of course, it is often better to work towards that slowly rather than make a scene and risk alienating them.

They take their medication at random times

You have to understand that, sometimes, you can recognize prescription medication abuse among seniors before even they do. This is because their medication abuse can start as a result of honest mistakes. Seniors often suffer from forgetfulness or can’t properly keep track of time. As such, the schedule at which they take their drugs can be very random. Frequently they take their medication far too often due to this problem. As such, they slowly start developing an addiction, and the craving for the medication simply encourages them to take it even more often. And they remain convinced they are sticking to the prescribed schedule all the while! In these cases, if you start treatment on time, prescription drug rehab frequently works well. But it is up to you to notice the problem, to begin with!

Why prescription medication abuse happens among seniors

We just described why it’s crucial to recognize prescription medication abuse among seniors early. But we didn’t touch upon why this happens in the first place: the increased exposure of seniors to medication. The older you get, the more your health starts failing you, and as a result, the more medication you’re prescribed. The sheer volume of medication that seniors are exposed to predisposes them to addiction. After all, if you are forced to take medicine day after day, your body will eventually get used to the cycle. As such, we cannot stress enough just how vital family assistance is for seniors. In fact, looking out for addiction is part of comprehensive care for the elderly! And a rather crucial part, at that.

Making choices when you recognize medication abuse

Even with our guide on recognizing prescription medication abuse among seniors, your journey to help them only begins. What you do once you recognize the problem is what counts in the end. And it can be challenging to do anything on your own when the victim of addiction is a senior. We recommend consulting a professional before doing anything since rash action can often do more harm than good.