Medical Marijuana Usage Among the Elderly
Posted by Glenn Beierle on 04/27/2018 in Elderly Resources
Updated on December 20, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Today, seniors are the fastest growing demographic for medical cannabis. The growth is a testament to the shifting view of marijuana, which patients and physicians now recognize as a viable treatment for a range of conditions, from chronic pain and fibromyalgia to cancer. As more seniors turn to medical cannabis, it’s vital to understand not only the benefits medical weed can provide but also the treatment methods available.
Learn more below about medical marijuana use among the elderly.
Why Doctors Recommend That the Elderly Use Medical Marijuana
As medical cannabis use continues to increase among seniors — it’s risen by more than 250 percent since 2006 — many people are asking why. The most significant factor is that the elderly are often vulnerable to more health risks, as well as the fact that more than 50 percent of Americans aged 65 years or older suffer from chronic pain. While research on medical cannabis is limited, many studies confirm its use as a pain reliever.
Additional reasons why physicians are recommending elderly patients use medical marijuana include that it:
- Offers a safe pain relief alternative: Opioids are becoming a considerable concern among the senior population. In a single year, more than 2.5 million Americans over the age of 50 abused their painkiller prescription, a statistic that explains the rising number of hospitalizations for senior opiate abuse. Unlike opioids, medical cannabis is a non-addictive treatment option.
- Delivers few side effects: Every prescription medicine comes with several side effects. Oxycodone, for example, risks cold sweats, chest pain, bloating, convulsions and more. In comparison, medical marijuana causes minimal, temporary side effects, such as hunger, red eyesand giddiness. This lack of significant effects is an immense benefit considering the age of seniors and their increased health risks.
- Treats multiple symptoms: Many seniors are receiving a cocktail of medications from their physicians. While necessary in severe cases, a cocktail of drugs requires considerable care, as the combination of select medicines can lead to adverse effects. By adopting medical cannabis into their treatments, seniors can reduce their medications and remove some from their daily regimen, as medical weed treats a variety of symptoms.
In short, doctors are advising their older patients to use medical marijuana because it offers undeniable benefits to a patient’s wellness.
What Medical Cannabis Treats Among the Elderly
Studies show that medical cannabis is a versatile medicine, capable of treating the following conditions, which are common among seniors:
- Sleep apnea
- High blood pressure
- Heart attacks
- Heart disease
- And more
In some instances, the side effects of medical cannabis serve as the treatment for a condition, such as by lowering blood pressure.
How Medical Marijuana Usage Benefits the Elderly
For physicians as well as patients, medical marijuana does more than offer a safe treatment option for multiple conditions — it also leads to the following benefits. It can:
- Manage your pain: Age often influences day-to-day pain, leading many seniors to use prescription painkillers, as well as abandon hobbies like golfing and gardening. As the increased use of medical marijuana among the elderly shows, medical weed helps patients of all ages reduce and manage their pain. With less pain and improved mobility, seniors can embrace their hobbies and enhance their quality of life.
- Combat your depression: The older you are, the higher your risk for depression. It’s a fact that’s worrisome for seniors, as they can become more isolated as they age due to the loss of friends and family, as well as the relocation of younger relatives. One reason physicians recommend medical cannabis to patients with depression is that it can promote laughter, which lowers stress and decreases pain, plus improves the immune system.
- Improve your sleep quality: On average, adults require seven to nine hours of sleep, yet more than 35 percent of seniors between the ages of 55 and 64 rest less than that. A lack of sleep can lead to several health risks, including obesity, heart attacks, diabetes and strokes. Like opioids, the use of sleeping pills introduces the risk of dependency and a range of side effects. By using medical cannabis with a high concentration of cannabidiol (CBD), seniors can fall asleep and stay asleep with minimal side effects.
- Boost your mindset: As many seniors are coping with depression and pain, it’s not uncommon for them to adopt a negative mindset. A physician’s recommendation to use medical marijuana can change that, providing an older patient with relief from their current symptoms. Many strains also offer experiences that make patients feel giddy, bright and happy, which can bring an elderly member of your family out of a slump.
How the Elderly Use Medical Marijuana
Like any other patient, elderly use of medical marijuana can vary, depending on their condition and preferences. Administration options for medical cannabis include:
In most cases, a physician will recommend a treatment method that will deliver the best results with minimal side effects. If you cope with chronic pain, for instance, your medical marijuana doctor may suggest using edibles, as they deliver long-lasting relief. Approaches can change, however, depending on your experience with a medicating method. You may discover, for example, that your pain responds better to a topical, which provides localized relief.
As well as choosing an administration option, many senior patients will also need to select an appropriate strain for treating their symptoms. For elderly patients, a strain with a high concentration of CBD and a low percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is ideal, as THC delivers a more psychoactive experience than CBD. Budtenders at licensed dispensaries can also offer advice about selecting a strain for an elderly patient using medical marijuana.
Learn More About Medical Marijuana Usage Among the Elderly
At MarijuanaDoctor.com, we offer valuable resources for patients, physicians and caregivers across the globe. Whether you’re interested in learning more about medical weed for a relative or yourself, we can provide you with accurate, up-to-date information that leaves you informed and confident when visiting your licensed medical marijuana physician or local dispensary.