Posts Tagged ‘drug addiction in elderly’

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Good Morning Dr. Paul Goldfinger. Here are today’s top stories.

USA Today

USA Today


The New York Times (6/10) explores the challenges in detecting “the extent of prescription drug abuse among older adults, particularly those with plenty of money to spend.

The Times explains that experts attribute this to their “access to multiple doctors, many helping hands, and lots of financial wherewithal can help cloak the warning signs of addiction.” According to the Times, the problem is growing, as “more older adults are becoming addicted to powerful pain pills…to drown out the aches and pains of aging.”


Blogfinger Medical Commentary: Paul Goldfinger, MD, FACC

Seniors are more vulnerable to drug abuse because they use drugs, legal or illegal, to cope with pain, depression, anxiety and grief.  They often see many doctors and thus have access to prescriptions which can be filled at multiple pharmacies.  They also take an average of 4-9 pills per day, so what’s a few more, and caregivers may not notice.

Seniors are susceptible to medication interactions/side effects which can cause falls, dizziness, cognitive changes, poor balance, fainting, confusion, altered sleep patterns and loss of appetite.

Doctors may be at fault for not suspecting this diagnosis and also for being a bit careless as they try to help seniors with complaints such as pain.  Specialists are more and more focused on their own piece of the patient pie while forgetting to consider the whole thing .  So called “primary care” docs these days are salaried employees whose bosses run the offices like assembly lines.  No matter the economics or technology of health care, the basic truth is that each case is different, and doctors must interact with their patients in an individualized manner.

Primary care providers must do their jobs and assess their patients in a comprehensive way, paying attention to all case components  and to the big picture.

Families, caregivers and patient advocates must keep an eye on things, more than ever before in the history of modern medicine in the USA.





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