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Nanotechnology Lotion: The Diagnostic Tool of Tomorrow

Imagine smoothing some gentle lotion onto your arm. The next day, you snap a photo of your arm with your smartphone mounted with external optical filters. The image is immediately transmitted to your doctor, who examines it and gives you a clean bill of health.

Sound like science fiction? This might actually be how doctors diagnose skin diseases in the near future. The fascinating world of nanotechnology brings a completely new dimension to medical care. A topical lotion containing the technology offers promise as a convenient and low cost alternative to biopsies.

What is Nanotechnology?

The prefix nano comes from the ancient Greek word for dwarf. Science has taken it to mean one billionth of something; for example, a nanometer is one billionth of a meter. Put another way, 1/8 of an inch is wider than 3 million nanometer. Medical nanotechnology allows us to manipulate and handle viruses, cell components, and pieces of DNA using an incredible range of tiny tools.

Some controversy surrounds nanotechnology, as its detractors point out that we don’t know whether or not it’s safe. While that is certainly true, it’s also true that natural nanoparticles surround us in our environment. The fact is that we don’t know enough about the effects of man-made nanoparticles on the human body. The other difficulty with nanotechnology is that the field is still in its infancy, and scaling up production at a sustainable cost has so far not been possible.

Both issues are sure to be resolved in the coming years, and in the meantime, researchers keep finding amazing uses for the little particles.

Lotion as a Diagnostic Tool

One such incredible nano-invention is a novel diagnostic technology that uses topical lotion to detect skin tissue biomarkers for diagnosis. Of course it’s not just any lotion; this lotion contains “NanoFlares”—microscopic balls of nucleic acid with gold cores.  Generally, when your doctor observes an abnormal lesion on your skin, he sends you for a biopsy. A biopsy is a surgical procedure in which a piece of your skin is removed to check for disease. They’re usually inconvenient  and may cause pain, scarring, and infection.

The developers of the NanoFlare are hopeful that their NanoFlare lotion may one day replace biopsies in diagnosing skin diseases. When the NanoFlares are applied topically, they can penetrate the skin and interact with skin cells. In the case of abnormal biomarkers, reporter flares separate from the gold core, and become fluorescent. Specialized cameras can detect the florescence that indicates the presence of disease. If there is no disease, the NanoFlares remain inactive, with no emission signals.

The scientists behind the NanoFlare, David C. Yeo and Chenjie Xu of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, say their new technology has a wealth of applications (no pun intended). A patient could self-apply the lotion in their own home at their own time, making this an extremely convenient mode of diagnosis. They would then either go to their doctor’s office for imaging, or use their own phone fitted with specialized cameras. The lotion could even be used to monitor the progression of the disease in real time, and gauge how successful treatment is.

Like the entire field of nanotechnology, NanoFlare lotion holds endless promise. Time will tell whether it will ever become anything more than interesting reading, but in the meantime, it’s fascinating to ponder the possibilities.

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Funding your Skilled Nursing Facility Stay

We’ve spent all week celebrating skilled nursing care and paying tribute to our amazing staff, residents and families. The American Health Care Association, who established this special week back in 1967, says NSNCW provides an opportunity to recognize the role of skilled nursing care centers in caring for America’s seniors and individuals with disabilities.

And it’s an important role. Approximately 15 percent of the US population is over age 65, and a large portion of them will need skilled nursing care in the next five years. One of the first things seniors and their families ask when they find out they need skilled nursing care is, “How will I pay for this?” Nursing home care can cost a pretty penny; the average price in New Jersey hovers around $100,000 a year. So what’s a middle-to-lower class senior supposed to do when they need the specialized care only a skilled nursing facility can offer?

Financial experts recommend you start planning your long-term care in your 50s or earlier. This can include opening a savings plan to self-fund your care, taking out a long-term care insurance plan, or some combination of the two. But even if you or your parents haven’t planned for long-term care, you still have options.

Who Funds Long-Term Care?

Many people assume Medicare will cover their long-term care needs. In truth, Medicare only covers the first 100 days of nursing care, and then only when certain conditions are met. Think of Medicare as the option for short-term nursing care. If, for instance, your parent needs a few months of rehab after a nasty fall, Medicare will cover their inpatient rehab and skilled nursing care. The general expectation is that your parent will recover and be able to move back home after a short time.

In long-term situations, the patient must either pay privately or get onto Medicaid to cover their care. Medicaid is state-run health insurance for the needy. However, many middle-class seniors find that joining Medicaid is the best option for funding their nursing home stay. To qualify for Medicaid, you generally have to exhaust all your assets. There are many legal ways to lower your net worth to the point where you can be eligible for Medicaid. Some of those options include an income spend-down or creating a trust.

Here are some articles about Medicaid and the application process, written by Regency’s own Judah Gutwein, L.N.H.A.:

Let Me Educate you on Medicaid Eligibility, on njnursing.com

Medicaid Medically Needy Program, on wellness.com

Applying for Medicaid, on senioradvisor.com

Medicaid Specialist vs Elder Law Attorney, on senioradvisor.com

Medicaid Personal Needs Allowance, on njnursing.com

And of course, feel free to contact us directly at Regency Nursing  if you have any questions about applying for Medicaid.

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Happy National Skilled Nursing Care Week!

Starting with Mother’s Day, we’ve kicked off our celebration of National Skilled Nursing Care Week here at Regency Nursing. The week-long observance, established by the American Health Care Association, provides an opportunity to recognize the role of skilled nursing care centers in caring for America’s seniors and individuals with disabilities.

American Health Care Association NSNCW logo

This year, the theme for NSNCW is “Celebrating Life’s Stories.” According to AHCA’s announcement, the theme pays tribute to life’s most significant events, relationships and experiences that form the backdrop of each of our unique perspectives. Our residents, families, and staff are encouraged to share their stories with each other. Sharing these narratives will cultivate understanding, love, and acceptance in our community.

How to Celebrate #NSNCW

Do you have a parent, friend, grandparent, or other loved one in a skilled nursing facility? Visit them this week and acknowledge their care providers. Listen to your loved one’s stories, to the staff members, to the other residents. And share your own stories. Your memories and perspective are unique and will contribute to the wonderful sense of community at Regency Nursing.

We shared tips in a previous post about listening and recording your loved one’s stories. If you haven’t yet, try to record—or even just listen to—at least one story this week. Your elderly parent or grandparent won’t be around forever, so take advantage of this special week to hear more about them and their history.

If your loved one has dementia and can’t communicate, you can still have a meaningful visit. Read our post about maximizing your visit with a patient in advanced dementia here. Some of the advice we offered in that post included a suggestion to touch the patient a lot—with hugs, massage, or petting—and to take a stroll in the sunshine.

And don’t forget, make sure to laugh. When you share stories, you build a bond—and that bond is strengthened with laughter. Keep your stories and memories lighthearted and upbeat as you celebrate National Skilled Nursing Care Week.

 

 

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Meet Beverly, Director of Nursing at Regency Park

National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6th and ends on May 12th, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Florence Nightingale was the pioneer of nursing as we know it, and has become the gold standard for nurses everywhere. Every year on her birthday, we celebrate International Nurses Day—a day to fete our amazing and dedicated nurses.

In honor of National Nurses Week, we spoke with Beverly, our beloved Director of Nursing at Regency Park, to get her take on nursing, long term care, and what she loves about being part of the Regency family.

Beverly, can you tell us a little about yourself?

photo of Beverly Sevilleno
Beverly Sevilleno, RN DON

I obtained my  Bachelor’s Degree of Nursing from the Universidad de Sta. Isabel, and became a registered nurse in the Philippines in 1994.  In 2004 I became certified here in the US, and licensed to practice in the states of New Jersey and New York.  I joined the Regency Grande as a night shift nurse in 2005, and was promoted to assistant to the Director of Nursing in 2007.  After two years of being ADON, I  transferred to my current position at Regency Park.

I’m also a devoted wife to my husband of 21 years, and mother to two exceptionally wonderful children ages 18 and 12

What inspired you to become a nurse?

Growing up in the Philippines, I knew I would fulfill my mother’s dream for me to become a nurse,  so I could go abroad and explore greener pastures. But looking back now, I can say that it was always my calling and destiny to be a nurse. Relatives who needed care always came to me, and even back then I found I had the heart and passion for it.

The first job I got when I arrived here was in long-term care. Over the years I’ve come to embrace and love it. Being in  a long-term care setting requires patience and diligence, which best fit my personality. I can now say this has become my passion and calling.

So you’ve been a nurse for nearly 20 years. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the field in that time?

Yes, I have been in nursing since year 2000.  The biggest change I observed over the years was how computerization has taken such a vital role in patient care .The transition from pen and paper to electronic medical records is just one example.

Regency is at the cutting edge of healthcare technology, enabling us to provide the best possible care for our residents. What does a typical day look like for you?

Aside from my administrative routines, on a normal day I solve the daily issues and concerns that come up. I also like to be proactive rather than reactive in my approach to nursing concerns. One thing I’ve ensured as DON is that the shift nurses take the time for personal interaction with the residents. Our nurses have a full schedule: dispensing medications, providing treatments, following up with the doctors, and completing paperwork. On top of that, they also make time to build relationships with our residents.

That’s incredible! In your opinion, what’s the most important quality of a good nurse?

The most important quality of a good nurse is service before self. To be available when needed, and to have the ability to give of yourself to provide that care. Nursing at that level is very fulfilling, because you know you’re part of the patient’s healing process.

What’s the best way for residents and their families to show appreciation to their nurses?

Appreciation is earned. As a nurse, the best is always expected from us, in terms of giving care and service. We feel appreciated when our residents and their families are satisfied and happy. Simple, sincere words of appreciation go a long way.

That’s so true, Beverly. What do you like best about being the DON at Regency Park?

Being a DON gives me satisfaction and pride.  I find mentoring others fulfilling. Also, extending and realizing  Regency’s vision and objective of providing excellent care, “Where Care Comes to Life,” actualizes my calling as a nurse.

Thanks for giving us this insight into nursing, Beverly. We appreciate your devotion to the Regency Park family. Happy Nurses Week!

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Lower your Blood Pressure with Doable Lifestyle Changes

Many seniors are in  prehypertension, that borderline stage where your blood pressure is at the highest end of normal. If your blood pressure is consistently 120/80 or higher, it’s a warning sign that you may develop full-blown hypertension. Chronic high blood pressure drastically increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, heart disease, heart failure, and kidney failure. People with high blood pressure can make some changes in their lifestyle today to avoid developing hypertension.

Exercise in intervals throughout the day

If you’re not used to exercising, it can be hard to start doing an hour-long workout every day. Instead, exercise in short bursts several times each day. Take a short break to run on the treadmill for five minutes, or sprint around the block. Aim to get 30 minutes of exercise in total. That’s just three 10-minute breaks a day.

Reduce your stress

Anxiety and stress have been proven to temporarily raise your blood pressure. It’s unclear if the behaviors associated with stress—drinking alcohol, overeating, or sleeping poorly—cause hypertension, or whether the constant blood pressure spikes are the culprit. Either way, long-term stress is linked to hypertension. For tips on reducing stress and anxiety, read our previous blog post, Take a Break From Stress.

Take a nap

If your schedule allows it, take a one-hour nap every day. It’s been proven to lower blood pressure and may help you avoid blood pressure medication. Just make sure napping doesn’t make it hard to fall asleep at night. Poor sleeping habits are a risk factor for hypertension, so it’s important to get a good night’s sleep.

Don’t drink as much

While you don’t have to give up drinking completely—red wine is actually linked to heart health—reduce your intake if you’re in prehypertension. Drinking too much alcohol can cause high blood pressure, but studies show heavy drinkers can improve their average blood pressure by cutting back to one drink a day. For reference, a drink of alcohol means 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or a shot and a half of whiskey or vodka.

Watch your caffeine

Drinking coffee may contribute to higher blood pressure in some people. One theory is that caffeine blocks a hormone that helps keep the arteries widened. Caffeine doesn’t seem to cause high blood pressure in everyone, but if you’re in prehypertension, ask your doctor if limiting caffeine could help improve your numbers.

 

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Silent Heart Attacks: Know the Risks

Do you know the signs of a heart attack? I’m guessing you do; the American Heart Association has done an admirable job raising awareness about heart health. We all know heart attacks usually come with chest pain or discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. Other symptoms include upper body pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, breaking out in a cold sweat, and nausea.

But did you know that you could also have  heart attack and not know it? That’s what a silent heart attack is. And like its name suggests, it comes with mild or no symptoms. You might think you have lingering indigestion, the flu, or passing nausea. Often you won’t even know you had a heart attack until a medical test for an unrelated reason reveals heart damage.

A silent heart attack can hit anyone at any time, but certain conditions can put you at higher risk.

Risk Factors for Silent Heart Attacks

A silent heart attack is not much different from a regular, “loud” heart attack. The risk factors are the same: smoking and tobacco use, family history of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, lack of exercise, and obesity.

And while the effects of silent heart attacks are usually mild, it leaves you at a much greater risk of having another heart attack. The subsequent heart attack can be fatal, or cause serious complications such as heart failure.

An Extra Risk for Silent Heart Attacks: Type 2 Diabetes

As I wrote in a previous article, a common complication of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy. Neuropathy is a condition involving damaged nerves. More than half of all diabetics develop some form of neuropathy. It usually causes numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, but in more severe cases, it can affect nerves all over the body.

When the disease causes damage to nerves leading to your heart, any sensations in that area will be muted. A heart attack that should cause terrible chest discomfort may instead feel like a slight twinge of heartburn. You may not notice anything unusual, chalking up any slight discomfort to normal aging. However, it’s a real heart attack and the damage can be serious.

One way to protect yourself from having a neuropathy-related silent heart attack is to monitor yourself carefully for nerve damage. If you catch the damage early, you may be able to slow it down with medication. Some signs of neuropathy are:

  • Difficulty exercising
  • Dizziness or fainting when you stand up
  • Frequent accidents or incontinence
  • A lower sex drive
  • Sweating excessively
  • Digestion problems

If you are having one or a combination of these problems for longer than one or two weeks, talk to your doctor about the possibility of neuropathy.

Symptoms of Silent Heart Attacks

Some people will not have any symptoms at all, and may never know they had a heart attack. In many cases, there are mild, short-lived symptoms that are easy to dismiss. You may feel slight pain or pressure in the center of your chest. Lasting indigestion, breaking out in a cold sweat, feeling light-headed or tired for no reason, shortness of breath, and heartburn are also signs of a heart attack. Women in particular may feel pain in the jaw, neck, or left arm.

After a silent heart attack, you may feel very tired or have heartburn for a prolonged period. You might notice swelling in your legs or sudden difficulty breathing. If something feels different, check with your doctor right away or call 911.

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Celebrate Life’s Stories

In two weeks, Regency Nursing will celebrate National Skilled Nursing Care Week. Beginning on Mother’s Day, May 13, Skilled Nursing Week will honor the unique stories of our residents, families, and staff.

You can take the opportunity to finally capture your parent or loved one’s life story. As an adult, you might think you know everything about your parents and their stories. Even if you do, it’s still a good idea to record their stories for their descendants. And if your loved one witnessed historical events, other people may also be interested in their account.

Here are some tips to record your elderly loved one’s life story for posterity:

Set the scene to encourage sharing.

Man holding a photoChoose a time when your subject is relaxed and comfortable. Settle them in a quiet location—their room, our beautiful gardens, or a calm corner of the lounge. Consider bringing old family photos or newspaper clippings to stimulate memories.

Another good way to set the mood is to find out what they enjoyed listening to when they were young, and find it online. One resource for old music is freemusicarchive.org. Play the music to get your loved one in a nostalgic mood, perfect for story sharing.

Make sure you have a good recorder, either on your phone or on a separate device. If they agree, try videotaping the session. Having video of your mom or dad will hold incomparable value after they’re gone.

Ask questions to start the flow.

Prepare a list of starter questions to get your parent talking. But don’t stick too closely to your questions. The answers you get might take you to topics you didn’t originally think of, and you’ll discover things you never knew about your parents’ lives. At all times, follow your parent’s cues. If a particular memory seems painful, gently change the subject.

Check out storycorps.org for some question ideas, such as “what is your earliest memory”; “what are you proudest of”; and “is there anything you’ve never told me, but want to tell me now.”

Another way to help your loved one open up is to ask them about historical events that happened when they were younger. Ask them about World War II, Korea, or Vietnam. They may want to share their memories of the Kennedy assassination or the moon landing. These memories also have the advantage of being educational, and you may want to share them with your local library or historical society.

Be a good listener.

Your senior lady smiling and conversingjob is to listen to your loved one’s stories, with some redirecting if necessary. You may hear a story you’ve heard before, but don’t cut them off when they start repeating an old story. First of all, this time you’re getting it on tape. Secondly, they might add new details or share a different perspective this time.

You may hear unpleasant memories, or opinions you don’t agree with. Don’t judge your loved one for her memories; it’s not about you. Keep in mind that the story you’re hearing may not be completely accurate. After many years, certain events get exaggerated and details forgotten. If the story sounds fantastical, it may not have happened that way… or maybe it did! Life can definitely be strange sometimes.

A word of caution.

Unfortunately, some seniors have had dysfunctional, abusive, or otherwise awful childhoods. Similarly, many war veterans still carry the trauma of war, and may not want to talk about it. If you know your loved one has many bad memories in their past, you may want to skip this particular activity. If you feel it’s important to record their story, proceed with caution and sensitivity. Consider consulting with the resident’s doctor or social worker on whether it’s a good idea to bring up these sad or hurtful memories.

 

 

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White Coat Hypertension: It’s Real

doctor taking elderly woman's blood pressure

Does going to the doctor stress you out? Does it stress you out enough to cause your blood pressure to shoot up? If so, you have “white coat” hypertension—a real medical condition where your blood pressure is abnormally high at the doctor’s office. Up to 30 percent of Americans display this syndrome, sometimes resulting in a misdiagnosis of hypertension.

White Coat Syndrome: How is it Diagnosed?

If you have high blood pressure at the doctor’s office, you may want to be tested for white coat hypertension. Your doctor will suggest you come back for a second reading. If at the second reading your blood pressure is also high, your doctor may recommend you check your blood pressure out of the office. You’ll use either a home monitor or an ambulatory blood pressure monitor. An ABPM is a device worn by the patient for 24 hours that measures their blood pressure at various times throughout the day. Your doctor will then compare the readings with the in-office readings.

If your blood pressure is normal all of the time except when you’re at the clinic, you will receive the white coat diagnosis.

White Coat Syndrome: No Big Deal?

You’d be forgiven for thinking white coat hypertension isn’t a big deal. After all, your blood pressure is normal most of the time. However, new data says that’s not the case.  According to a new study, the risk of death is nearly twice as high for patients with white coat hypertension, compared to patients with normal blood pressure.

White Coat Syndrome: How to Treat?

If you have white coat syndrome, the best thing to do is to take your blood pressure regularly at home. If your blood pressure increases from going to the doctor’s office, it’s likely to increase from many other stressors as well. Monitoring your blood pressure at home—with your doctor’s guidance—will provide a lot of insight into what affects your blood pressure. It will also help alert you and your doctor if you become truly hypertensive.

In general, a good way to keep your blood pressure down is to practice stress-relief techniques, particularly before an appointment. Read my article about reducing stress for some great ways to prepare for your next doctor’s visit.

 

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Area Hospitals Earn Superior Grades

We at Regency Nursing are thrilled to report that our local hospitals have by and large earned A’s on their safety report card in April 2018. The report was released by Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades, an initiative to improve health care in hospitals nation-wide.

Our area hospitals are important partners in our residents’ health care, and it’s great to know we have these quality facilities close by. We salute the top-graded hospitals, and their commitment to safety, and we wish them continued success in excellent patient care.

About the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades

The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health care, began assigning grades to hospitals in 2012. They issue a report twice a year—in April and October—grading each hospital on an A–F scale. The Spring 2018 grades came out this morning, and 22 hospitals in New Jersey earned an A.

An A means the hospital is above average in most areas of patient care and outcomes. The grade does not measure doctors’ care; rather, it tells you how safe the hospital’s staff will keep you or your loved one. Leapfrog’s criteria include doctor and nurse staffing ratios, the number of post-surgical infections, and the rate of blood clots.

Some hospital officials maintain that Leapfrog’s methodology is too simplistic and doesn’t take the most up-to-date information into account. However, the report has become a valuable tool in educating the public and raising awareness about hospital safety.

While the survey downgraded New Jersey’s overall ranking to 17th from 11th place, we are still home to many top-ranked hospitals in patient safety.

Which hospitals earned an A

Bayshore Medical Center in Holdmel, just two miles from Regency Park, made the grade, as did Riverview Medical Center slightly farther away.

Regency Gardens in Wayne has five A-rated hospitals within a 20 mile radius: Hackensack University Medical Center, Clara Maass Medical Center, Holy Name Medical Center, Saint Barnabas Medical Center, and The Valley Hospital. Of note, Saint Barnabas—also around 20 miles from Regency Grande in Dover—earned an A on every single report card since Leapfrog started issuing them in 2012. They are the only hospital in New Jersey with this distinction.

Morristown Memorial Hospital, just 12 miles from Regency Grande, also made it to the top 22. Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, while not earning an A in the Leapfrog survey, landed near the top with a B grade. That means it’s average in some areas, and above average in others.

Here are New Jersey’s top 22 hospitals, listed in alphabetical order:

 

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Opioid Crisis Hits New Jersey Seniors

prescription pill bottles lined upAmerica is waking up to the opioid epidemic sweeping across the nation. In the last 20 years, the abuse of prescription and non-prescription opioid drugs has skyrocketed. The numbers from the CDC are shocking:

  • On average, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
  • Approximately 66% of drug overdose deaths in 2016 involved an opioid.
  • More than 40% of opioid overdose deaths involve prescription opioid.

President Trump announced last October that the opioid crisis is a Nationwide Public Health Emergency, and a special commission released a report with specific recommendations for battling the epidemic. The administration has already begun acting on these suggestions with a number of initiatives. Locally, hospitals and other organizations are mobilizing to solve the crisis. Saint Peter’s Healthcare System in New Brunswick formed a task force to address the epidemic.

“New Jersey is confronting a staggering public health crisis brought about by prescription opioid abuse,” said Linda Carroll, chief nursing officer at St. Peter’s Healthcare System. “This is an epidemic that knows no economic, racial or geographic limits, and it’s one we must fight with education and resources.”

The task force held a forum at the beginning of the month to educate the public and raise awareness. Another event is scheduled for next Tuesday, April 24, to discuss recovery from opioid addiction.

What are Opioid Drugs?

Opioids are natural or synthetic chemicals that relieve pain by interacting with the opioid receptors on the brain’s nerve cells. In addition to pain relief, they also produce euphoria, which makes them likely to be abused. Opioid drugs are perfectly legal and safe when prescribed by your doctor and taken for a short time according to your doctor’s instructions. Oxycodone, codeine, and morphine are just some of the legal prescription pain medications doctors prescribe to patients after surgery or in other situations. Prescriptions for opioids have increased steadily since 1999, and more and more patients become addicted to their pain meds every year. Opioids also include illegal drugs, such as heroin. If an addict loses access to his prescription medications, he’ll often turn to heroin or synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

How the Opioid Epidemic Affects Seniors

Many older adults take OxyContin, Percocet, or Vicoden to manage chronic or acute pain. Age slows the body’s metabolism and ability to absorb medicine, so seniors are more likely to become addicted to pain relief medications than younger adults. In addition, approximately 65% of seniors use at least three prescription medications. That leaves a lot of room for mistakes or forgetfulness; in fact, studies show that most older adults who abuse prescription drugs do so by accident.

Anyone who takes an opioid for a long period of time is at risk of becoming addicted, but seniors are even more susceptible because of the above reasons. It can be hard to spot drug abuse in your elderly loved one, since the symptoms are so similar to regular aging. For example, confusion, memory loss, and fatigue are common symptoms of both.

Keep track of your loved one’s prescriptions, especially if they are taking an opioid. Here are some warning signs of addiction to look out for:

  • They get a prescription for the same medicine from two different doctors.
  • They fill a prescription for the same medicine at two different pharmacies.
  • They don’t follow the prescription label’s instructions.
  • They appear more confused or forgetful than usual, or become withdrawn or angry.
  • They get defensive when you ask about it, or make excuses for why they need to take it.
  • They keep extra pills in their purse or pocket.
  • They’ve had a problem with alcohol or drug abuse in the past.

If you have reason to believe your loved one is abusing their prescription drugs, contact their doctor immediately. The doctor can evaluate the patient and determine if there is addiction and what the appropriate treatment would be. Treatment depends on the circumstances of the drug abuse, and typically includes counseling, medication, and/or lifestyle changes.