Monday, July 15, 2024

Seniors in the United States Turning to Cannabis for Relief

Seniors have reported a rise in the use of cannabis in the United States, with some turning to the drug for the first time to help them sleep better, dampen pain, or treat anxiety, particularly when prescription drugs have not been effective or have come with unwanted side effects.

In 2007, only about 0.4 percent of people age 65 and older in the United States had reported using cannabis in the past year, and that number increased to almost 3 percent by 2016. As of 2022, it stands at more than 8 percent. Seniors like Nancy Herring, 76, who has used cannabis recreationally for her entire life, started using cannabis medicinally after her husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and dementia two years ago and developed insomnia. They found relief with indica strains and other cannabis products, which significantly improved their sleep.

Doctors have acknowledged that the medicinal properties of marijuana among older users have not been well studied, leading to a lack of advisory for patients about the benefits and risks. The rising popularity of cannabis among seniors has also resulted in a grass-roots effort to educate and inform one another about its usage, benefits, and potential risks.

As more seniors experiment with cannabis, cannabis companies are offering tips and products to appeal to the elderly population. There are also concerns about the potential health risks associated with cannabis, such as potential drug interactions, cognitive effects, and balance issues, that need to be taken into consideration.

With the legalization of cannabis in various states across the United States, the number of seniors using marijuana is expected to increase. Companies are also targeting this demographic by creating brands and products specifically catering to seniors, offering a variety of cannabis-infused products with the potential to alleviate and treat various ailments.

Because cannabis is not federally legal, there is limited research available to guide doctors in recommending cannabis to older adults. There are concerns about the absence of advisory on the proper usage, dosage, and strains of cannabis, as well as the potential risks associated with it. While taking low doses of cannabis (usually 1-2.5 milligrams) might help, excessive consumption could lead to various health issues such as dizziness, confusion, and nausea, particularly in older users. Emergency department visits due to cannabis use among seniors have risen significantly over the years, signaling a need for caution and education regarding its usage.

It’s essential for olderadults to speak with their doctors before using cannabis, especially for medical purposes or to treat chronic symptoms. Cannabis can interact with certain medications and can have adverse effects when combined with other sedatives or alcohol. Smoking cannabis may worsen respiratory symptoms in individuals with chronic lung diseases.

For seniors interested in using cannabis, it is recommended to educate themselves on licensed dispensaries that sell third-party-tested cannabis products to ensure that they are safe and effective.

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