Lighting Up Later in Life - Cannabis and Older Adults

Lighting Up Later in Life: Cannabis and Older Adults

I think we tend to picture cannabis as an activity for the youth. But really, there’s nothing stopping adults from lighting up later in life. Indeed, aside from the old hippy stereotypes, many people of all ages use cannabis both recreationally and medicinally.

In fact, findings show us that cannabis use by older adults has increased in recent years, at least in the United States. Between 2015 and 2018, adults over 65 using cannabis jumped from 2.4 percent to 4.2 percent. Part of this increase in usage can be attributed to the de-stigmatization of the drug, but it seems that it’s actually driven by the cannabis’ medical benefits.

A study from the Journal of the American Geriatrics found that about 78 percent of participants took cannabis to help with their health. Alleviating pain looks to be the primary benefit that medical cannabis gives to seniors. About 73 percent of older adults report pain relief as their main motivation for cannabis use. The study’s participants also take cannabis for other health issues, too. Approximately 29 percent use it for stopping sleep disturbances, 24 percent use it for anxiety and 17 percent use it for depression.

Of the seniors surveyed, most found that cannabis helped with their health issues. About three-quarters said that they were either “somewhat” or “extremely” satisfied with using the drug.

Are There Any Risks Involved for Older Adults Using Cannabis?

Lighting Up Later in Life - Cannabis and Older Adults

Though cannabis confers a lot of benefits, are there risks for seniors using the drug? Cannabis does change aspects of our physiological and psychological well-being. For example, cannabis intake increases our heart rate, which is a potential risk factor for anyone with a cardiovascular condition. Also, older adults typically have medication they take for their health conditions. The potential drug interactions of having medication and cannabis running through their veins could be another risk factor.

Thankfully, these factors shouldn’t mean that seniors cannot use cannabis at all. It simply means that one may need additional steps to ensure safety. A trip to the doctor can help older adults determine if cannabis is safe for them or not. Also, there’s now a cool new app that tells you how cannabis interacts with different medications. With these in mind, seniors can take the precautions needed to ensure that cannabis is right for them.

If you’re an older adult and you’re using cannabis, maybe you can share your experiences below. Or if you have a related story, please also share! And don’t forget to follow us @cannalifenet.