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Detox for Seniors

September 30, 2023

The idea that someone’s age can disqualify them from detox or make detox less effective is untrue and even deceptive. During medically supervised detox, a patient’s withdrawal symptoms are managed, and any potential medical concerns are addressed to make the patient as comfortable as possible while withdrawing from substances like alcohol or opioids. In this article, we’ll explain how getting sober and living life free of substances can happen at any age, even for seniors.

Alcohol misuse in older adults can have substantial health consequences due to age-related changes in metabolism, prescription interactions, and greater vulnerability to the effects of alcohol. Early detection, intervention, and access to appropriate treatment are critical for addressing alcohol misuse and enhancing this population’s overall well-being. Isolation, loss and grief, and retirement can all contribute to alcohol misuse, and you may see signs of it in changes in behavior, memory lapses, financial problems, and a change in eating habits. A medically supervised detox program is ideal for a senior who wants to safely face withdrawal symptoms and ensure existing medical conditions are properly managed.

Signs of Alcohol Use in Seniors

If you suspect an aging parent or grandparent has been abusing alcohol, knowing what signs to look for can be a big help. As some signs overlap with other conditions, it’s important to evaluate carefully before reaching conclusions. One noticeable sign is an increase in alcohol consumption by amount or frequency of drinking times. Changes in behavior, including mood changes, irritability, or unexplained changes in social interactions and relationships, can also suggest an issue with drinking. Take note of any neglect of personal hygiene, household responsibilities, and other routine activities. Your loved one may suffer from frequent falls or chronic health problems exacerbated by alcohol use. Memory lapses and forgetfulness may be related to their drinking, too. A loss of interest in hobbies and isolation from friends are additional signs of alcohol-related issues in seniors. A negative interaction with prescription medicine may worsen existing medical conditions, and some medications are not meant for mixing with alcohol at any time. 

Are You Ever Too Old for Detox?

There is no set age cap to go to detox. The first and most important stage in treating substance use problems is detoxification, which is available to people of all ages, including older adults. Older persons may experience particular difficulties with addiction because of their potential increased susceptibility to the effects of substances. They may have existing medical conditions, too. For these reasons, a medically managed detox is recommended, especially when the substance of choice is alcohol. 

Five Factors Contributing to New Risky Substance Use in Seniors

Various factors can influence substance use and the need for detox among senior citizens. Retirement frequently results in more leisure time, and some seniors may resort to alcohol to occupy their days and prevent boredom. The loss of loved ones, friends, or a sense of purpose can be emotionally taxing. Alcohol can be used to help people cope with loss and loneliness. Seniors who become socially isolated due to reduced mobility, the death of peers, or geographical distance from relatives may seek relief and interaction with others through alcohol. Alcohol abuse can be exacerbated by chronic health issues, discomfort, and prescription medications. Some older adults may use alcohol to self-medicate physical suffering. Financial stress, worry about retirement funds, and living on limited incomes can all be pressures that motivate some seniors to use alcohol as a coping mechanism.

The Link Between Prescription Medication to Addiction

Your loved one may have been prescribed anti-anxiety medications, like Xanax or Tramadol, following a traumatic or life-altering event. Unlike other types of prescriptions, these medications come with a high risk of addiction, even if taken as prescribed. Recognizing the harmful side effects of these types of drugs is vital for your loved one’s well-being. Withdrawal symptoms can be especially problematic for Xanax and Tramadol, so be mindful of any new appearance of anxiety, panic attacks, hyperventilation, tremors, insomnia, muscle spasms, and loss of appetite. Withdrawal symptoms also may include sweating, stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. Hallucinations and seizures are possible, too.

What Differs About Alcohol Detox for Seniors?

It’s important to recognize that alcohol abuse among seniors can have serious health consequences due to age-related changes in metabolism, medication interactions, and increased susceptibility to the effects of alcohol. In turn, their detox needs can change in the later years. Seniors may encounter physiological changes as they age that impact how their bodies break down substances. These modifications may result in a slower metabolism and a longer duration of intoxication, thus raising the risk of overdose. 

Medical issues common in older adults, such as hypertension or heart disease, may also make the detox process more difficult. Because of characteristics such as frailty, cognitive decline, and pre-existing ailments, seniors may be more prone to the physical and psychological impacts of withdrawal. Due to this sensitivity, extensive medical supervision is required throughout detox. Malnutrition is another common issue in older adults, and detox can decrease essential nutrients even further. In addition, detox needs for seniors can be shaped by an older person’s mental health needs and the presence of cognitive disorders, different social support structures in retirement age, and different treatment goals. For instance, your aging loved one may focus more on improving their quality of life, managing chronic health conditions, or addressing the impact of substance abuse on their social relationships.

Finding Help for Seniors at Restored Path

The medical detox program at Restored Path is tailored and multidisciplinary, with medical doctors, addiction specialists, and geriatric care experts participating. The goal is not only to manage withdrawal safely but also to meet the special needs of older adults to place them on a path to effective recovery and increased general well-being.

Comprehensive Assessment: We conduct a thorough medical and psychological assessment to identify the individual’s specific health issues, medication needs, nutritional status, and mental health concerns in order to personalize the detox plan.

Medication Management: To reduce withdrawal symptoms and limit discomfort, medications may be provided. Medication dosages and types may need to be modified for older adults due to age-related physiological changes and the existence of chronic health conditions.

Specialized Medical Supervision: Throughout the detox process, the individual is continuously monitored by medical professionals with geriatric care experience. Regular check-ups and vital sign monitoring are critical since older persons are more prone to difficulties.

Nutritional Support: Because malnutrition is a significant concern among seniors, providing a balanced diet and addressing any nutritional deficits during detox with nutritional counseling as needed is critical.

Hydration: Dehydration might be a problem during detox, so adequate hydration is maintained, especially in cases of vomiting, diarrhea, or sweating excessively.

Psychological Support: Older adults may have unique mental health requirements, as in cases of cognitive decline or dementia. A mental health evaluation is essential, and psychological support is provided to address any co-occurring difficulties.

Family Education: Because family members are beneficial for support in the healing process, it is critical to provide education and tools to assist them in understanding and supporting their aging loved one’s recovery.

Social Support: It is essential to check on the availability of family members or caregivers, as older adults may rely on them for support and help during and following detox.

Safety Measures: Extra efforts are taken to guarantee the safety of older adults, such as fall prevention measures and accommodations for mobility needs.

Discharge Planning: The detox program includes a comprehensive discharge plan that outlines the next steps in the recovery process, which may involve transitioning to a residential treatment program, outpatient care, or other supportive services.

Ongoing Support: Post-detox, ongoing support is critical. Access to counseling, therapy, support groups, and medical care are readily available to address the individual’s ongoing recovery needs.

Restored Path Detox is DFW’s premier location for sophisticated medical detox. Conveniently located in Frisco, we provide a safe sanctuary for healing that is also a state-of-the-art detoxification facility for a wide range of substances. Our compassionate physicians and therapists want you to get well and are committed to removing any existing barriers to your care. Restored Path’s board-certified medical professionals and highly qualified nursing team have extensive critical care experience and are available to monitor your detox program 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you or a loved one are struggling with drug or alcohol use, call us today and take your first step towards recovery: 469-827-0000.

If you or a loved one are struggling with drug or alcohol use, call us today and take your first step towards recovery: (469) 827-0000.

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