Addicted in PA | How addiction affects the elderly population

Addiction affects people of all ages—it doesn’t discriminate among race, color, creed or age—today we’re talking about how it affects our elderly population. D.A. Mark Powell explains how seniors fall victim to drug abuse.

“Well, in two ways, certainly they can have addiction issues because addiction is non-discriminatory, it affects all ages and as district attorney, I am most concerned with our senior citizens being the target of fraud. And we know that addicts prey on our elderly in order to gain medication, so if you are caring for a loved one, be pro-active in their care with their doctors, do weekly pill counts to ensure that the drugs aren’t being diverted or stolen by somebody else and dispose of unused medication. You could do that by checking out disposal sites by going on Lackawanna or obtaining Deterra bags to safely dispose of unused medication,” says Powell.

Jason Kavulich, director of the Lackwanna County area agency on aging, explains what the agency doing to prevent seniors from becoming victims of drug abuse.

“The agency recognizes that older population are impacted by the opioid epidemic. One of the things we’ve done recently is we’ve partnered with the Wright Center, which has generously applied for a grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; that grant will allow the Wright Center to provide training to my staff who will then provide training in the community to the individuals who are working directly with older adults. These individuals will then be able to identify issues surrounding those older adults who are taking opioids or taking them in combination with other medication and symptoms or side effects that they might see. Also we’re very concerned with older adults with medication in their home. We want to make sure they can safely dispose of the medication so we have a program in which the older adult can contact us. We provide them with a Deterra bag, that bag can be used safely in their home, the medication can be placed in it, add water and it’s safe to throw right in the trash. It eliminates them having to leave their house with the medication or travel with it, but it keeps them safe and it also speaks to the work we’re doing with the district attorney’s office and other community partners like drug and alcohol offices and Barb Durkin’s team to make older adults aware of the opioid epidemic and they understand all the resources available to them,” Kavulich says.

For information on the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging, click here.

Help is always available. If you or someone you know is seeking treatment, visit the Lackawanna Recover Coalition website.

Resources are also available from the Lackawanna Co. Department of Human Services Office of Drug and Alcohol ProgramsThe Recovery Bank, and the Lackawanna Co. Treatment Court Facebook page.