Our mother is 85, in independent living and is addicted to several drugs. We now realize she needs more help. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

Our mother is 85, in independent living and is addicted to several drugs. We now realize she needs more help. Any advice?

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She has a lady (who is not a medical professional she pays who does everything for her but is only there during the weekdays. She has been addicted to pain medications, and Xanax for years and all agree that she cannot be rehabbed at this point in her life. She is coherent enough at times to manipulate us to drop everything because of her "emergency". It is to the point that the sons who live nearby are called away from their jobs several times a week to take her to the emergency room where most of the time it is something simple that can be treated at her doctor visit. How do we help her and what kind of facility would be the best for her?

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Two drugs that can kill during unsupervised withdrawal are alcohol and Xanax. After short term use of Xanax, the person is likely to suffer seizures. God forbid it's a person using Xanax for years!

And the opiate withdrawal is brutal...sweats, skin crawling, hallucinations, severe vomiting.etc. At 85 she'd probably die, unless it was done medically with very close supervision. Moreso then at a, run of the mill, detox facility. Since this is not the route the OP is looking to go, my comment above is just FYI.

Marilyn, please talk to your Mom's Dr. If he feels she needs
such a high degree of these meds, seek out a pain management clinic and a geriatric psychiatrist.

In the meantime, It would serve everyone best if they refused to come running when Mom calls with her "emergencies". If she is well enough to pick up the phone to call you, she's well enough to call 911. And the ER will call her contact person, if it's a real problem.

Maybe it's time for a nursing home as Mom is not able to responsibility handle her meds. The geriatric psychiatrist will be able to help you with all this, as well as evaluating Mom's needs for the best possible placement to keep her safe.  

Please keep us updated. This has got to be tough on you.
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Reply to Pepsee
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The ‘knee jerk’ reaction to the term ‘drug addiction’ can elicit the fervor the US ‘drug crisis’ is working hard to create. An 85 year old lady who eats up her pills is a pest. The family needs to tell her, no more ER visits to get an extra shot or a few extra pills! And make mom tough out a few days of withdrawal. One of a drug addict’s worse traits is expecting everyone else to bail them out when they eat up their pills like jelly beans!

Of course talk to her doc about cutting her consumption down. Let him know the family has been taking her to the ER for extra but you’re all agreeing to stop that.

She is too old for traditional rehab. If someone can get a little control over her consumption it’ll be a WIN!!!
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Reply to HolidayEnd
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Shakingdustoff, you have thrown around the "just Baker Act the patient" freely, on many posts here recently, and it is not a act to be used lightly, but for the patient who is seriously in danger to themselves or others, or for those suffering from a serious mental illness or breakdown.

We don't know the background of this person, the why's and how's they were put on pain and anxiety meds in the first place, but clearly at some point, a Dr felt she qualified for such treatment, and now the patient is feeling that she isn't getting enough, therefore is "needing" to go to the ER for additional medication.

It's not unusual for people on pain meds to lose their way, thinking that their pain and anxiety isn't being treated sufficiently, and clearly she is going about it the Wrong way, and as Jeanne (above) mentioned, her children need to inform her PCP, to what is going on, to attempt to get her better care. There may be other issues at hand, but "Baker Acting" the person isn't the way to go about it, unless there is no other possible solutions to fix the problem through the proper channels. Come on, the patient is 85 years old! There are ways to rectify this without jumping to the Extreme here! She obviously need help, and they need to come clean with her prescribing Dr, to arrive at a better solution!
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Reply to staceyb
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I don't know who the "all" are who agree that she cannot be rehabbed at this point, but I think I agree with them, UNLESS she is bothered by the addiction and is committed to breaking free from it. I assume that if that were the case she would already be in a program.

This is a medical issue, and to do anything about it all, her doctor(s) should be involved. Have you tried to work out a treatment plan with the prescribing physician?

It would seem to me the solution has to include somehow managing her pain and anxiety without these drugs or with a reduced amount of these drugs. I don't know how extensively other treatments were sought, but if some stones were left unturned, turn them now!

There were conditions -- pain and anxiety -- that prompted the prescriptions in the first place. Are those conditions still there? Or is it more that she is afraid they might be and she is trying to prevent flare-ups?

Does Mom do well when the helper is there? Would it be possible to bring in more help right where she is? Cover the weekends, and maybe evenings? What kind of things does she need help with? Can she get herself a sandwich? Dial the phone? Toilet herself? The specific care she needs will determine the best kind of facility. If she needs frequent medical help, a nursing home might serve her best. Or perhaps she could function in an assisted living environment.

Wherever she goes next, the drug issues will go with her. While she may not be a good candidate for traditional "rehab," I do hope that she can get some medical help with her pain and/or her fear of pain.

Here is an AgingCare article on the subject:


https://www.agingcare.com/articles/seniors-and-prescription-drug-addiction-133459.htm
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