No family caregiver wants to think that their aging relative is abusing prescription drugs.
But, the truth is that elderly people are particularly at risk for drug abuse. One reason for this is because they have access to more prescription drugs. In fact, 3 out of 10 people who are 57 or older take 5 or more prescription drugs. Unfortunately, some age-related changes in the body making it easier for seniors to become addicted to drugs. It can be difficult for caregivers to tell if a senior is abusing their prescription drugs because some of the symptoms are similar to things that are typical with aging.


Why Older Adults Become Addicted

There are many things that can lead to drug addiction in an older adult. The reasons can be physical or emotional. Some things that may lead to drug abuse among senior citizens are:

Retirement: For some people, retirement isn’t a happy event. They may feel useless and have too much time on their hands. Or, the reduction in income can be stressful. They may turn to substances to make themselves feel better.

Death of a Loved One: Losing a spouse, friend, family member, or a beloved pet can trigger depression and lead to using drugs inappropriately.

Sleep Problems: Many older adults struggle to sleep well at night because of physical ailments or stress. This could cause them to take drugs in an attempt to sleep.

Decline in Health: Physical and mental health conditions not only give older adults access to prescription drugs, they may cause them to use too much.


Symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse
Not all seniors will exhibit the same signs of abusing prescription drugs. However, some common signs for caregivers to watch for are:

  • Having two prescriptions for the same medication from two different doctors.
  • Experiencing trouble with memory.
  • Using more than one pharmacy to fill a prescription for the same drug.
  • Taking more of the medication than the instructions indicate.
  • Taking the medication more often than they are supposed to.
  • Being withdrawn or angry.
  • Talking about a kind of medication often.
  • Not wanting to go somewhere without taking the medication.
  • Hiding or sneaking medicine.
  • Carrying extra pills in their pocket or purse.
  • Getting defensive if someone asks them about the medicine.
  • Changing eating and sleeping patterns.
  • Having unexplained chronic pain.


Caregivers who notice these signs in their aging relative should talk to the senior’s doctor about them. Ask the doctor if the older adult is taking a medication that could be addictive. The doctor will usually schedule an appointment with the person to determine if they may have a problem. They will also be able to suggest an appropriate treatment plan.


If you or an aging loved one are considering Home Care Services in Chattanooga, TN, please contact the caring staff at Signal Point Home Care. Call 423-648-9821