Baby boomers have comprised a unique generation in our nation’s history and in American life. They were the first wave of births after the end of the Second World War, and witnessed the transformative decade of the 1960s, disco and rollerblades of the 1970s, the rise of Wall Street and pop music in the 1980s, Y2K, the Chicago White Sox’ first world championship in over a century, and so much more. Within that transformative time, as many know from either experience or the history books, there were periods of increased drug use. Such drug use unfortunately stuck with certain adults who, as we surge through the mid-2010s, are now becoming the elderly population. Thus a notable number of elderly people, some of whom reside in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, still deal with drug addictions, as well as alcoholism.
We have also previously covered the plight of nursing home staffers’ misuse of drugs and medications to sedate patients even when such usage was completely unnecessary and simply the easy way out for staffers to control patients whether or not they were prone to violent or disruptive outbursts. The terrible consequence of such chemical restraint and abuse can be an addiction to that medication. And, as with so many others, life events or other issues can trigger abuse and addiction even later in life. As a local news affiliate has reported, according to a journal study on the issue of baby boomers and drug usage, Americans age 50 and up that face drug or alcohol abuse issues could be as high as 5.7 million by the end of this decade, which will be double the number from 2006.
Planning for the Problem
In The Bronx, New York, a nursing home has taken special measures to prepare for the potential influx of patients who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, and who will be staying in a place where there is a particular access to drugs. The new protocols will apply to those new admittees age 60 and above. The facility will set aside a certain number of beds for these particular patient residents, and will design a regimen that integrates their medical treatment, such as for a physical injury or recovery from an ailment, or a care plan for a mental affliction like dementia, and also mix in treatment for the addiction. There will also be a support team of sorts that includes trained nurses and other staff to carefully monitor the patients to ensure they do not relapse. This presents a unique and innovative strategy for addressing the problems that the newer generation of nursing home residents faces. Local reporting also noted how some nursing homes have Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for residents to also help them deal with these issues.
The Bronx home in particular does something similar by employing counseling into the integrated program. And the program there will exist thanks largely to the generosity and care of a foundation that has given a substantial grant to the facility to follow this plan. And because Medicaid insurance can’t cover the addiction treatment above medical care, it is important that the program work effectively by the time the patient is set to be discharged. (Unfortunately, as always, there is a financial component as well.) With the generosity of philanthropists and foundations, and with the dedication of those running the program, however, elderly addicts in nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities will hopefully get the complete care they truly need.
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