Wednesday May 3, 2017

By Abby Hutmacher

Seniors and Cannabis: Why the Elderly are Turning to Marijuana for Treatment Health/Science

We’ve come a long way since Nancy Reagan’s “War on Drugs” campaign. Though the messages about the perils of drug use were easily received then (at least by most), the dawning of the internet and easily-accessible information has made it more difficult to convince people to “just say no.” People want information, scientific studies and other evidence to back up claims, and they’re sharing their newly acquired knowledge with the simple click of a button.

This, of course, is great news for the marijuana movement thanks to the abundance of information about cannabis and its amazing therapeutic potential. Such news is especially promising considering the recent rise in senior cannabis use because they are the demographic who can benefit from it most. In fact, there are many ways cannabis therapy can help seniors live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives.

Cannabis Can Reduce Prescription Drug Dependency in Seniors

The unfortunate effect time has on our bodies is one that cannot be ignored. As the body ages, many physical, mental and emotional problems arise (and compound) making life in the golden years less than satisfactory for many seniors.

To reduce the physical, mental and emotional burdens put on the aging body, seniors often find themselves stuck in a prescription medicine regimen that in and of itself can take a toll on the body.

Fortunately, cannabis can supplement or replace many prescription drugs including pain medication, anti-depressants, stimulants and sleep aids.

It has also been shown to improve the efficiency of medication, allowing seniors to medicate less often without discomfort which reduces the likelihood of dependence.

The importance of reducing prescription drug use among seniors should not be understated. Drug abuse among people over the age of 65 is a growing epidemic; nearly 55 percent of opioid prescriptions were doled out to seniors in 2013 (even though they make up only 13 percent of the population) which is an increase of more than 20 percent over the previous five years. The issue becomes apparent when considering the marked increase in drug-related emergency room visits among seniors.

Seniors are more likely to take multiple prescriptions, too, and may abuse or misuse their medication for many reasons including forgetfulness, increased tolerance and worsening medical conditions. This leaves older adults more susceptible to drug-related injuries (including fatality) as they attempt to juggle multiple medications at a time. By using cannabis to supplement prescription medication, seniors can help protect their bodies from a prescription drug cocktail.

Cannabis Improves Mood

Cannabis’s therapeutic potential spans well beyond its ability to treat pain and promote sleep. Another important benefit of senior cannabis consumption lies in its ability to improve the mood of its users. This is especially beneficial to the elderly given their increased likelihood for depression.

Though causes of depression in seniors varies based on the circumstances (including decreased mobility or an increased awareness of mortality), the outcome is often the same: seclusion, loss of motivation and a rapid decline in health.

Enter again our hero, Mary Jane. Cannabis as a treatment for depression is well-known, and can have some amazing benefits on other areas of health, as well. Rather than suffer a decline in health due to depressive symptoms, seniors who use marijuana for depression can experience elevated mood, increased sociability and improved health.

Many elderly people experience increased happiness with cannabis. Many elderly people experience increased happiness with cannabis.   photo credit

Cannabis Can Help Fight Depression

Cannabis’s tendency to promote laughter is one more reason it can improve the health of senior citizens. Some surprising benefits of laughter include increased immune system functioning, heart protection, decreased stress levels, decreased pain and relaxed muscles. Research also shows that laughter increases life span which means that seniors who use cannabis will not only be happier, but will live longer to enjoy their happier life, too!

Not only that, but because cannabis is largely a communal activity, seniors who consume marijuana may have a more active social life via their stoner circle and proceeding activities. Whether complimenting a game of bridge, encouraging movement on the dance floor or enjoying a nature walk, cannabis can serve as a great pre-game to popular senior activities which helps bust the blues and maintain a vital social connection.

As the body ages, health problems increase. The unfortunate result of this is an increased dependency on drugs and alcohol which can actually have a counter-effect on health, especially when these substances are abused. But cannabis use can be very beneficial to seniors, and many are starting to understand how profound these benefits are.

Though there is no clear reason for the increase in senior cannabis use, we can speculate that it’s due to factors like an increased acceptance of marijuana use, an abundance of pro-pot research and easier access to safe, affordable (and versatile) cannabis products. Whatever the reason for the increase in cannabis use among the elderly, we’re thrilled that they have access to therapy that works in so many wonderful ways.


What do you think of cannabis use among senior citizens?

Photo Credit: Jonathan Wilkins (license)


Abby Hutmacher Abby Hutmacher

Abby is a freelance writer and founder of Cannabis Content, a marketplace where marijuana enthusiasts can create and sell digital content to businesses in the cannabis industry. Follow Cannabis Content on Facebook and Twitter, or visit CannabisContent.net to learn more.


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