Nursing Home Aims to Curb Prescription Drug Abuse

As Baby Boomers Age, One Nursing Home Attempts to Curb Alcohol and Prescription Drug Abuse

prescription drug abuseThe Baby Boomer generation is getting older, and many nursing homes struggle just to accommodate the potential overcrowding as one of the largest generations in American history ages past retirement. However, one nursing home is also concerned with potential addiction to alcohol and prescription drug abuse, as the Boomers become older and require more medications.

The Jewish Home Lifecare nursing home in the Bronx, New York, created a method to address issues of alcohol and prescription drug abuse in their elderly residents last year. The nursing home set aside eight beds to start with, and began screening patients aged 60 or older who entered the skilled nursing facility after a hospital stay for signs of alcohol or prescription drug abuse. Those patients were then offered help to recover from their addictions.

A study published in 2009 in the journal Addiction found that, because of the size the Baby Boomer generation, as well as the “high substance abuse rate” among the group, the number of Americans with alcohol or prescription drug abuse problems over the age of 50 would reach 5.7 million by the year 2020. By that time, many of those with substance abuse problems will be in nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, or assisted living facilities, with access to strong prescription drugs to help treat their chronic ailments.

“If you look at the demographics of our country, the baby boomers are getting older and a lot of them were involved in drugs and alcohol back in the ’60s and ’70s,” said James Emery, deputy director of the ElderCare program at the Odyssey House addiction recovery agency in Manhattan.

“Even those who were not, a lot of them have been prescribed a lot of narcotics for pain they might have from a back injury or something going on with their knee and they become addicted,” he said.

“We know the boomers are coming and there are going to be more and more in the future,” he added. “We also know that in this society, their children are spread all over the country, so they don’t come for dinner and they don’t see the vodka bottle.”

The alcohol and prescription drug abuse rehab program at Jewish Home Lifecare combines programs offered through nursing homes anyway, such as physical and occupational therapy, with psychological therapy and addiction counseling. The program aims to help not just the physical aspects of aging or living with a disability, but coping mechanisms to help prevent the elderly patient from falling back on alcoholism, or develop an addiction to prescription drugs.

After the patient is discharged from the skilled nursing facility – usually after 23 days – the care team at Jewish Home Lifecare organizes a discharge plan, arranging transportation to AA meetings, or having a visiting nurse keep an eye out for signs of relapse.

“We shouldn’t be the only ones doing this,” Poole-Dayan said. He hopes the program will be copied at other nursing homes in the near future.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Prescription Drug Abuse Charges

If you have received criminal drug abuse charges, or are suspected of abusing prescription drugs, you are not automatically guilty, and you do not give up any of your rights. The South Carolina Criminal Drug Abuse Attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help defend you. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case. Do not let criminal drug charges such as trafficking or possession ruin your reputation and career prospects. Contact us today. 803.252.4800.

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