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Opioid Safety: What Every Older Adult Needs to Know

As part of an online series, Silver Sneakers writer Barbara Brody addressed the current opioid crisis in the United States. According to a recent study, 15 percent of seniors are prescribed opioids during a hospital stay, and 43 percent still use them three months later.

In part one, Vinnidhy H. Dave, DO, director of Medical Pain Management at HSS, discussed what older adults should know before filling an opioid prescription.

"There's the potential for addiction, but you also have to be concerned about an increased risk of osteoporosis and fractures, especially in older patients," said Dr. Dave.

According to the article, Dr. Dave occasionally prescribes opioids for patients coming out of surgery, but he encourages them to evaluate their discomfort before taking it.

"If your pain is a 6 or 7 out of 10 and you feel like you can handle it, then maybe you don't need the medication," he noted.

In part two, Dr. Dave described the warning signs of physical dependence or addiction to opioids.

Dr. Dave said physical dependence occurs when your body becomes used to receiving opioids. "You'll have withdrawal symptoms if you try to stop abruptly," he added.

In terms of addiction, Dr. Dave explained that "you become more focused on when you're taking your medication next and when your next refill is. Life becomes centered around the medication."

Read part one at silversneakers.com

Read part two at silversneakers.com