Aging Well in the Gorge November 15th 2016

What is your picture of a drug addict? A young man on a street corner shooting up heroin? But did you ever think it could it also be the 75-year-old grandmother addicted to OxyContin since recovering from back surgery? It may not be the picture you imagined, but the overuse of prescription painkillers can be just as harmful as heroin sold on the street.

I became aware of this, when Linda Griswold stopped by the Center to drop off flyers for last week’s talk: “When a Good Thing Goes Bad…Prescription Drug Misuse”. She told me that prescription drug misuse is not a problem just for young people – it can happen to older adults as well.

Which makes sense. As we age there are many legitimate reasons to use pain medications: back pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and major surgeries – increasing the risk of abusing opioid pain medications such as OxyContin and Percocet. These pain medications are particularly dangerous because they can create a physical dependence in as few as five days for someone taking several daily doses. And the longer the drug is taken, the stronger the dependence grows and the tolerance increases- creating a need for larger and larger doses. Which is not good.

Sadly, the addiction to prescription painkillers among older adults is growing. Between 2006 and 2012, hospital emergency rooms saw a 78 percent increase in the number of visits among older adults with misuse of prescription or illicit drugs – and nearly half of those visits were among adults 75 and older.

Family members, caregivers, all of us, need to be aware of the dangers of opioid medications: the addiction-related problems such as feeling more anxious or depressed; falling more often or seeming more confused at times or even disoriented; and the alternative non-drug treatments such as acupuncture, medical massage, hydrotherapy (soothing warm jets of water) and pool therapy which can all reduce pain.

But the take away is to remember that opioids are for short-term use: acute pain or when prescribed for a few days after major surgery. But NOT for chronic conditions. As many have learned, it can be deceptively easy to turn a good thing into something bad.

Doesn’t it feel as if Black Friday sales start earlier and earlier each year? So why not just throw away all those big stores ads, and visit the local craft fairs and holiday bazaars to purchase one-of-a-kind gifts for your family and friends – and maybe something for yourself.

This coming Saturday, November 19th, you can shop two bazaars with one stop: the St. Peter’s Altar Society’s Annual Bazaar (9:00 – 4:00) at St. Mary’s School, and right across 10th street at the Center’s Holiday Bazaar (9:00 – 3:00). There will be more vendors than you can shake a stick at (haven’t heard that expression for quite a while) including unique handmade lap blankets, pillows and pillow cases. On Saturday, make sure you don’t drive by without stopping.

Continuing the countdown of “40 Great Things about Growing Older”: #6 “Your kids finally see you were right – at least about some things.” Which doesn’t mean they are smart enough to think they can start telling you what to do! For the Center’s Tuesday Night Music on November 22nd, Country Road will be playing so you can throw your head back and kick up your heals, Doors open at 6:00, music and dancing starts at 6:30 and donations are appreciated. “

“Kids Say the Darndest Things” was a segment of Art Linkletter’s “House Party”. (This week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket each are Sandy Haechrel and Tina Castanares, And Betsy Ayers – just to show her I can remember how to spell her last name correctly.)

This NBC television show aired for its longest run from 1960 through 1967 and featured concealed cameras filming regular people in unusual situations. For this week’s “Remember When” question, complete this show’s famous catchphrase, “Smile, you’re on ______ ______”? Email your answer to, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or deliver it to the Center with a copy of the episode that included former President Harry S. Truman.

Well, it’s been another week, trying to remember, did I just add three scoops or four? Until we meet again, as my old friend Sophocles once said, “Old age and the passage of time teach all things.”

“Worry is like a rockin’ horse. It’s something to do that gets you nowhere.” Old West Proverb

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