Though they are highly addictive, opioids are commonly prescribed to older adults suffering from chronic pain and physical illness. Here are some things you should know when discussing treatment options with your physician:

What are opioids?

Opioids are drugs used to treat moderate to severe pain. Common prescription opioids include: oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and methadone. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid approved to relieve severe pain. However, some fentanyl is illegally made and distributed. Heroin is an illegal opioid.

What is the opioid epidemic?

Opioids were prescribed at an increased rate in the late 1990s after pharmaceutical companies affirmed they were not addictive. This resulted in the misuse of prescription and non-prescription opioids. It later became clear that opioids were highly addictive. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency in 2017. Approximately 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

How are older adults affected?

Older adults are more likely to suffer from chronic pain and physical illnesses making them more susceptible to the addictive properties of prescription opioids.

How can opioid misuse be prevented?

  • Never take opioids in greater amounts or frequency than prescribed
  • Don’t sell or share opioids
  • Store opioids in a safe place, where others can’t access them
  • Properly dispose of unused opioids – click here to learn how.

What is an opioid overdose?

An opioid overdose occurs when opioids are taken in greater amounts than prescribed. Signs of an overdose can include:

  • Constricted pupils
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Labored breathing
  • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • Limp body
  • Pale, blue or cold skin

An overdose is dangerous and can be fatal.

Can an opioid overdose be reversed?

When used right away, naloxone can reverse an opioid overdose. It can restore normal respiration to a person whose breathing has slowed or stopped. Learn more about naloxone and where to find it here.

How is opioid addiction treated?

Opioid addiction treatments include medicine and behavioral therapy. If you or someone you know needs help for substance abuse, talk to your doctor or call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

 

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/opioids/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/opioids/prescribed.html

https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/prevention/index.html

https://medlineplus.gov/healthtopics/opioidabuseandaddiction_a.html

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids

https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/opioid-overdose-reversal-naloxone-narcan-evzio

https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/index.html

https://www.centeronaddiction.org/the-buzz-blog/what-you-need-know-about-opioid-addiction-and-older-adults

https://www.fda.gov/drugs/safe-disposal-medicines/disposal-unused-medicines-what-you-should-know

https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/opioid-overdose-reversal-naloxone-narcan-evzio

https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/

Organ Donation: Things to Consider

National Donate Life Month (NDLM) was established in 2003 as a way celebrate those who have saved lives by becoming organ, eye, and tissue donors. Celebrated each April, NDLM, encourages Americans to give the gift of life. You can save up to eight lives by becoming an organ donor. Lifesaving organs include heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and intestines. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to become an organ donor:

Statistics

  • As of January 2019, there were more than 113,000 people on the United States transplant waiting list.
  • Another person is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes.
  • 20 people waiting for a transplant die each day.

Facts

  • There is no age limit to become an organ donor. In fact, one third of organ donors in 2018 were over the age of 50.
  • Everyone, regardless of medical history, can register to become an organ donor. Transplant teams determine if organ donation is possible at the time of death.
  • Most major religions in the U.S. support organ donation. Read more about religion and organ donation here.
  • There is no cost associated with organ, eye, or tissue donation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can be donated?

  • Organs: kidneys, liver, lungs, heart, pancreas, and intestines
  • Eyes: corneas and sclera
  • Tissues: heart valves, skin, bone, and tendons

How are donors and recipients matched?

  • The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) operates a database of U.S. patients waiting for a transplant. There are many factors considered when matching the donor’s organs to potential recipients. These factors include, but are not limited to: blood type, body size, severity of patient’s medical condition, distance between the donor’s hospital and the patient’s hospital, and the patient’s waiting time. Read more about the matching process here.

How do I register?

Sources:

https://www.organdonor.gov/awareness/events.html

https://www.organdonor.gov/about/donors/seniors.html

https://www.organdonor.gov/statistics-stories/statistics.html

https://www.organdonor.gov/about/donors/religion.html

https://www.organdonor.gov/about/what.html

https://www.organdonor.gov/about/process/matching.html

Register

9 Tips for Healthy Aging

Life expectancy has increased over the years, but despite the advances in medicine and technology, age may still increase your risk of developing health complications. It is important to embrace your age and adapt to the golden years.  Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can significantly improve your quality of life. Here are 9 steps you can take to ensure your well-being as you grow older:

Eat Healthy

Maintaining a healthy diet can help you feel better as you age. Reduce your intake of saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and grains. Choose low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt. Drink water instead of sugary drinks!

Stay Active

A little bit of exercise can go a long way. Choose the type of exercise that is right for you based on your age and physical ability. Go on short walks, ride a bike, swim, dance, do yoga, lift small weights, and move your hands or feet while sitting. There are plenty of exercises to choose from!

Visit your Doctor

Make sure to schedule a check up at least once a year. Mention any symptoms or concerns that you have. Ask if you’re up-to-date on immunizations and find out if you have any vitamin deficiencies. See what screenings are right for you based on your sex and age here.

To find out which vaccines you might need, take The Adult Vaccine Quiz provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reduce Stress

Making time for yourself is a great way of reducing your level of stress. Take time out of your day to do some of the things you enjoy. Find a hobby that takes your mind off your daily worries. Make sure you are getting the recommended amount of sleep. Ask for support from those around you or join a support group.

Prevent Falls

Go over your medications with your doctor and ask if any of the side effects can increase your risk of falling. Visit your optometrist to find out if your prescription glasses need to be updated. Exercise regularly to improve your strength and balance. Make sure your house is well-lit and free of trip hazards. Use grab bars and railings to reduce your risk of falling.

Pay Attention to your Skin

Skin elasticity decreases with age causing it to wrinkle. Your skin may become more sensitive and prone to bruising. You may notice the appearance of age spots and skin tags. Keep your skin moisturized and be careful when spending time in the sun. Limit your exposure by using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing. Contact your doctor if you notice irregular changes in your skin such as growths and unexplained bruising.

Repel Mosquitos

Despite their size, mosquitoes can spread many disease-causing viruses.  These viruses can severely affect older adults and people with weakened immune systems. Protect yourself by using repellent and wearing protective clothing.   Use window and door screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home. Get rid of any stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed. Consider mosquito control and prevention treatments for ponds and water features in your garden.

Be Social

Responsibilities and priorities change as you age, but it is important to maintain social connections. Reach out to friends, family, neighbors, and those you care about. Visit restaurants, malls, and parks near you. Public libraries and senior centers often host events where you can make connections and enjoy time with others.  You can also make a positive impact in your community by becoming a volunteer. Check out a list of groups you can join here.

Ask for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. There are many tasks that become harder to accomplish as you age. Ask someone you trust to help you out. If you require full-time care, consider moving into an assisted living or skilled nursing care facility. Our facilities offer services like housekeeping, laundry, and transportation.  Many of our facilities also have full service beauty salons, Cable TV, and WiFi. All our facilities host year-round events and daily activities that you and your loved ones can enjoy!

Click here to find the facility nearest you.

* Speak to your doctor before making any diet or lifestyle changes.

 

Sources:

https://www.choosemyplate.gov/ten-tips-choose-myplate

https://www.choosemyplate.gov/older-adults

https://www.cdc.gov/prevention/index.html

https://www2.cdc.gov/nip/adultimmsched/

https://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/adultfalls.html

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/skin-care-and-aging#healthy

https://www.cdc.gov/features/stopmosquitoes/index.html

https://www.nia.nih.gov/about/living-long-well-21st-century-strategic-directions-research-aging/research-suggests-positive

 

prostate cancer featured image

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in American men following skin cancer. The risk factors include age, family history, and race. The American Cancer Society states that older men are at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer citing that about 6 out of every 10 cases occur in men over 65. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men whose father, brother, or son have been diagnosed with prostate cancer are two to three times more like to develop the disease themselves. The CDC also indicates that African-American men are most commonly affected by prostate cancer and that the disease usually develops sooner and grows at a faster rate than in other racial groups.

Some of the symptoms are:

  • Difficulty starting urination
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Blood in the urine

It is important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions. Additionally, not all men with prostate cancer experience symptoms.

Common screening tests include:

  • Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test to measure the levels of PSA in the blood.
  • Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) to feel for lumps and abnormalities.

These tests alone are not enough to make a diagnosis. If prostate cancer is suspected, a small sample of the prostate will be removed for testing using a core needle biopsy. The results which usually take 1-3 days will determine if cancer cells are present.

There are different treatment options available including:

  • Surveillance
  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Hormone therapy
  • Chemotherapy

 

Talk to your doctor about your risk factors and screening for prostate cancer.

 

Sources:

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/index.htm