Thursday, May 15, 2014

HIDDEN FROM VIEW: SUBSTANCE ABUSE IN OLDER ADULTS

There's no easy way to say it - our seniors are too often neglected. It's true. Most would admit to not making enough time to see older family members enough. Our older loved ones sometimes become an afterthought . The elderly are left out and pushed inside. It's not easy getting old.

Along with dealing with this natural process of the human condition, life changing events sometimes occur, which can add to the struggle. In October 2012 the shore points of New Jersey and New York were pounded by Superstorm Sandy, leaving homes and business destroyed and towns desolate. The physical damage was visible - wreckage, closed businesses, decreased tourism. The emotional damage to the residents was not.

Many older adults choose to make these shore towns their homes. These towns are quaint and quiet in the off-season, making for a nice place to retire. These retirees, who have spent a lifetime working and earning enough to settle in these sleepy shore towns, were stripped of everything as a result of Sandy, leaving them with nothing and nowhere to turn for help. It wasn't only physical havoc Sandy reeked - behavioral health issues also were a result.

A recent study released by Healthcare Qualities Strategies, Inc. reports an increase in depression, anxiety, and substance abuse for this population as a result of Sandy. Studies from prior disasters have found that victims, especially older adults and those with chronic health conditions, often have an elevated risk for behavioral health issues after a disaster.

Among the study finding:

• A 1.2 percent overall increase in depression or related disorders after the storm.
• A 5.8 percent increase in anxiety disorders; a 7.7 percent increase in post-traumatic stress disorder; and an 8.1 percent increase in alcohol or substance abuse.
• Hispanics had the highest depression and/or proxy disorder rates followed by whites and blacks, both before and after the storm. Although Asians had the lowest rate both before and after, they experienced the highest increase.

The aim of the study is to identify pockets of need and encourage counties and communities to work together to strengthen behavioral health services for those suffering presently as well as plan for any future disasters. In the 55+ season of their life, the senior faces a variety of medical, psychological and social challenges.

Older adult addiction to alcohol or other drugs can greatly exaggerate these pre-existing conditions. Anxiety, depression, grief, and loneliness can often be present in the lives of older adults, but if chemically dependent, they can plunge quickly into isolation and deeper depression. Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat provides a pace and environment conducive to the individual needs and abilities of this age group. Our older adult addiction treatment program is tailored to meet the varying needs and special circumstances the older adult faces. Patients flourish in an intimate, age specific, non-confrontational group of peers. They find comfort in being seen daily by our medical doctor, and our single-story floor plan offers many benefits for the patient who may be experiencing physical weakness or chronic pain. Being attached to a general acute care hospital gives our patients security in knowing that if an emergent situation arises; they will receive immediate professional medical care.

Take the First Step. Call Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat 866.273.0868 or visit our website. Hemet Valley Recovery Center Retreat offers a full continuum of care including: Acute Medical Detoxification, Rehabilitation, Residential, Partial Hospitalization and Recovery Residences.
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