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Aging and Addicted Training: There's a New Face to Opioid Addiction ... And It's Older

June 27, 2019
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

The Area Office on Aging, the Lucas County Sheriff and Bowling Green State University are blazing a trail to reduce opioid addiction among older adults. That's because, there’s a new face to opioid addiction … and it’s older. In developing a local strategy to reduce opioid addiction among older adults, these three organizations have become the first partnership of its kind in the nation. Throughout 2018 and continuing on into 2019, with funding from the Area Office on Aging, Bowling Green State University has conducted educational trainings for over 1,000 people on red flags to look out for that may indicate an older adult is struggling with opioid addiction, how to initiate a conversation with the older adult about this and resources that are available to help them. In March 2019, this partnership has also resulted in the Area Office on Aging hiring a Sheriff's Drug Abuse Response Team (DART) Officer. The Area Office on Aging and the Lucas County Sheriff Tharp are leading the way to address this growing problem. There are an estimated 908 Lucas County residents age 60 and better who are abusing or addicting opioids. In 2017, there were an estimated 48 drug overdose emergency room visits by Lucas County adults age 65+, which is more than double the number in 2012. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2017) reports that overdose death rates increased the greatest in adults aged 55-64 (4.2 deaths per 100,000 in 1999 to 21.8 per 100,000 in 2015 and adults between the ages of 45-54 had the highest death rate from drug overdose (30 deaths per 100,000). According to the CDC, approximately 42% of all opioid overdose deaths in the United States are people aged 45 and older. Between 2002 and 2016, prescription opioid misuse increased 66% for those aged 50-64 and more than doubled for those aged 65 and older. Opioid addiction among younger parents has also indirectly affected older adults because when the biological parents are addicted to opioid drugs and aren't fulfilling their parental responsibilities, it is often grandparents who are stepping up to have the grandchildren or great grandchildren move in with them and be raised by them to keep these children from going into the foster care system. There are now 7,624 grandparents in northwest Ohio who are responsible for the care of their grandchildren. Grandparents who raise their grandchildren are more than twice as likely to be food insecure than older adults who are not raising grandchildren. In partnership with the Lucas County Sheriff and Bowling Green State University, the Area Office on Aging has implemented the following 4-pronged approach to raise awareness about opioid addiction and older adults, prevent this addiction from happening and to help those who are addicted get into recovery to put their addiction behind them: 1. Produced a local documentary called “Addiction and Aging” documenting the stories of older adults who have struggled with opioid addiction to raise the awareness about this topic and to start a community conversation regarding solutions for this problem. Some of those featured in the documentary attended the premiere of this documentary along with 200 elected officials, community leaders and organizations serving older adults. The documentary can be found at the following location:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAqzgl72hFw&t=18s 2. Held a training on opioid addiction and older adults with a speach by Administration for Community Living Assistant Secretary Lance Robertson and 12 additional trainings on this topic educating 1,000 Ohioans about how to prevent older adults from becoming addicted to opioids, what red flags to look out for that may indicate an older loved ones is addicted to opioids, tips on how to initiate a conversation with this aging loved one on this difficult topic and what resources are available to help older adults get into recovery. 3. In partnership with the Lucas County Sheriff, the Area Office on Aging hired a retired police officer as a Drug Abuse Response Team (DART) Officer. This DART Officer provides older adults who are afflicted with opioid addiction with education, intervention/treatment, and referrals for recovery and distribution of opiod drug deactivation bags. An educational curriculum has been developed to be used by older adult volunteers to conduct presentations at senior centers, senior housing facilities, libraries and other locations. 4. Conducted chronic pain self-management workshops.

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