- While senior citizens make up only 12% of the U.S. population, they take 30% of all prescription medication
- A 2011 study of Medicare recipients found that about 15% were prescribed an opioid when discharged from the hospital; 3 months post-discharge, 42% were still taking these highly addictive pain medicines
- Nearly 1/3 of Medicare beneficiaries in 2015 received at least one prescription for such opioids as OxyContin, Vicodin and fentanyl
- Those receiving these drugs had an average of 5 prescriptions for them
- In the past 20 years, the rate of opioid-related hospitalization to overuse among seniors has quintupled
- According to the National Safety Council, “Elderly adults taking opioid painkillers have 4 times as many bone fractures, are 68% more likely to be hospitalized and are 87% more likely to die as those taking over-the-counter pain medication.”
For a pictorial illustration of these statistics, please see our new infographic entitled “Not My Grandma“
While we many have heard of the Opioid Epidemic in America, we tend to think of “other people” in “other families” as having problems with addiction. But, these statistics concerning seniors are staggering!
I could go into a whole article on background and causes of the recent Opioid Epidemic (and I have in this blog post if you would like to read more), but, suffice it to say, for the purposes of our newsletter today, it’s real and it’s happening to those we know and love.
What is the answer? Prevention is the BEST cure, as always! When we experience mild pain – what we tend to think of as the normal aches and pains of growing older (back, neck, leg, shoulder, etc.), oftentimes the pain can be attributed to stiffness due to lack of use. Of course, if you are experiencing long-term pain or pain from an injury, we always suggest you seek medical advice! However, if you are offered prescription pain medications in the Opioid family, ask your specialist if he or she thinks that regular exercise might help, before filling the prescription.
Many of our class participants report greatly reduced pain after just a few weeks of participating in our Live 2 B Healthy® classes. Why? We are re-building muscles and working on flexibility, both of which naturally alleviate much of the pain of what we consider the aches and pains of old age (read more about natural pain relief through physical fitness here). We have to be aware of the dangers of Opioid painkillers, and of the alternative options available to us. The ONLY way to combat the effects of addiction at any age is through knowledge.