Thursday, March 7, 2019

Resource: Opioid Risk in Older Adults

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) recently released an issue brief discussing the use of evidence-based programs to reduce chronic pain.

Highlights from the issue brief:

  • Thirty percent of Medicare Part D beneficiaries had an opioid prescription in 2016.
  • Of those older adults prescribed opioids, 500,000 were prescribed high amounts of opioids.
  • 90,000 Medicare beneficiaries were at a high risk of opioid addiction due to high prescriptions of opioids.
  • Older adults are at an increased risk for opioid overuse and misuse due to having more prescriptions and utilizing more over the counter medications.
  • The 65 and older population are also at a higher risk for medication related side effects from opioids including dizziness, confusion and respiratory depression Due to these side effects, those who take opioids are at a higher risk of falling than those that take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin. 
  • Between the year 2000 and 2015 there was a 640% rise in opioid related deaths for those between the ages of 55 and 74, demonstrating a rise in suicidal thoughts for individuals on opioids.
  • Opioid use can also lead to illegal drug use, with eighty percent of heroin users in the U.S. indicating they first misused prescription medications.

For more information, you can access the NCOA issue brief here.