As human beings, it is in our nature to care. We care for our friends, family members, pets, anyone, or anything we hold dear. We strive to provide the best care, which often aims more towards children and the elderly. Over the years, children seem to have more options in their developmental growth and overall wellness. However, when it comes to the elderly, there hasn’t seemed to be much growth — especially when it comes to prescription drugs.
We often think that the elderly should have the highest level of care when in reality, they’re given the same options as everyone else — sometimes even less. In the US alone, people over age 65 consume 30 percent of prescription drugs. Forty percent take at least one over-the-counter medicine. And while there are more available medication drugs to cure various ailments, there’s still the issue of side effects that can create deadly impacts on elderly patients.
However, lately, doctors and researchers have begun switching from standard prescription drugs to medical cannabis, hoping this might be a better solution for elderly care. But in what way can cannabis help, and how can this be the safest option for elderly patients?
In what ways can cannabis help the elderly?
In most cases, elderly patients face issues from arthritic pain and osteoporosis to cancer. Yet, a majority are prescribed medication for the same conditions that younger patients face, like insomnia, neuropathy, and anxiety. As elderly patients take medication, the side effects can do more harm than good, which is why the medical world knew it was time to introduce cannabis as an option. In a 2019 clinical study, 184 patients participated in cannabis treatment where the median age was around 82. After six months of treatment, 58 percent were still using cannabis, and of all the respondents, 89 percent reported improvement in their general condition. The most common side effects a few patients experienced were dizziness and sleepiness — compared to prescription drugs, is little to no harm.
Other studies have found that medical cannabis decreased prescription medication use, including opioids (which has become an epidemic in the US) in patients. “Cannabis (both THC and CBD) can be very helpful for elderly users, particularly because of how it helps with chronic pain relief and sleep issues,” says Will Seagaard, business lead at Fresh Connection Brands. “It’s a safe alternative to traditional medicines and, when used properly, can significantly improve symptoms and quality of life for anyone affected by these common ailments.”
Medical cannabis should still be considered carefully and individually for each patient and after trying different methods from oils, CBD capsules, or actual cannabis flower.
So where do we go from here?
At the end of the day, cannabis use in older people and elderly patients is growing. And over time, reducing the stigma cannabis has carried for years. Medical cannabis research has continued to show its positive effects for managing insomnia and chronic pain. However, before starting any treatment process or over-the-counter CBD, elderly patients need to discuss cannabis use with their doctor or pharmacist as cannabis use may interfere with other prescribed medications.
If you are looking for cannabis as an alternative for your elderly family member, educate yourself as much as possible. Reach out to a medical cannabis dispensary or doctor in your area for questions. First-time users should start with the lowest dose and build from there. This way, they experience minimum side effects.