Avoiding Opioid Danger in Seniors

Opioids: A delicate balance for seniors
Nearly half of older Americans suffer from a chronic pain disorder, and the likelihood of chronic pain increases with age. Opioid medications can be valuable tools in treating pain and improving quality of life in older adults. Opioids can help older adults maintain their independence, which is important to quality of life, and can help treat debilitating pain that might otherwise leave individuals unable to be mobile or perform basic tasks. Prescribers of these medications serve a critical role in weighing the benefits and risks of opioid use in older adults and treating individuals through responsible prescribing practices.

Types of pain
Chronic pain usually lasts from 3 to 6 months and can produce long-term psychological problems. It's not normal and if left untreated can greatly limit a person’s ability to sleep, walk and perform daily tasks. Acute pain lasts a short time, usually less than 30 days. It can be accompanied by elevated heart rate and blood pressure. This type of pain is usually brought on by an event such as surgery or a broken bone. Opioids are usually prescribed to relieve the pain of chronic pain sufferers. However, possible side effects of opioid use in seniors include constipation, sedation and increased risk of confusion
When considering prescribing opioids, doctors should take into account the type of pain, their patient’s goals and how the pain is affecting the patient’s quality of life. Due to a national effort to reduce opioid prescribing, many older patients face discrimination for using opioids that are essential to their quality of life and providers must be educated on prescribing safely without discrimination. For example, older adults may require long-term use of opioids for palliative care or to relieve symptoms for illnesses that can’t be cured. However, opioids should only be prescribed when pain relief and function improvement outweigh risks to the individual.

Other ways to treat pain
For pain relief that does not require use of opioids, the National Institute of Aging recommends:
• Analgesics, such as Acetaminophen
• Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin and ibuprofen
• Acupuncture
• Cognitive behavior therapy
• Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
• Massage therapy
• Physical therapy

To learn more about opioids and other pain-relieving medications, contact Turenne PharMedCo for all your prescription needs at www.turennepharmedco.com. 

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