Cullman Senior Magazine Summer 2019 - Page 47

OLDER ADULTS & Opioid USE By Lorri Lee Health Promotions Coordinator According to the National Institute of Health, the number one reason Americans seek medical atten- tion is for pain. Seeking treatment for pain out- weighs any other condition such as diabetes, heart disease, and/or cancer combined. More than 17 percent of Americans had at least one opioid pre- scription filled in 2017, and it’s estimated that about 25 percent of them misused the medication. The opioid epidemic is impacting millions of lives every year; including the elderly. So what are opioids? Opioids are painkillers or narcotics that include several types of medications such as; codeine, morphine, oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), meperidine (Demerol), methadone and fentanyl (the most po- tent opioid available by prescription). As we age, ongoing health conditions are more prevalent, with 80 percent of older adults diagnosed with at least one chronic condition and 68 percent diagnosed with two or more. And most chronic conditions do cause pain, such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer, heart failure, kidney disease, COPD, neurop- athy, fibromyalgia and fractures. And any injuries or surgeries all contribute to the pain problem. Most health practitioners feel it may be necessary to pre- scribe opioids to help manage the pain. According to an article in Clinical Interventions in Aging “30 CULLMAN COUNTY SENIOR MAGAZINE SUMMER 2019 | 47