Jordyn Hermani of the Indianapolis Star reports that in Indiana, less than 1 percent of Hoosiers age 65 and older — 115 of the 18,312 diagnosed opiate use disorder patients in 2017 — suffer from opiate use disorder. Addiction is defined by continuously taking an opioid for more than three months.
While that number is smaller than among other demographics — the 25-44 age range made up almost 70 percent of diagnosed opiate addicts in 2017 — it makes them no less important.
Lori S. Joseph, a wellness educator with Lifestream Services Inc., estimates the number of recorded elderly individuals who suffer with opiate use disorder should be higher. People who don’t recognize their grandmother’s Oxycodone is actually an addictive drug might fail to see signs of addiction right in front of them.
The world of opiate addiction and the elderly is relatively unknown. Not many medical professionals come face to face with it regularly enough to do anything about it, Joseph said.
When professionals are met with a patient, they’re faced with a difficult ethical question: Do you let them live pain free but addicted to opioids, or try to wean them from addiction and have them face the pain of withdrawal and their conditions?
The answer isn’t clear.