Why haven't I heard about older people and substance abuse?

Probably for the same reasons you haven't heard about older people and (fill in the blank)!! It isn't that substance abuse doesn't occur. It's because it isn't newsworthy, considered important or something with which anyone cares to deal, maybe including the older person him or herself. 

People are concerned about substance abuse when it robs a person of their future, their health, their family or when it results in crimes. Older people are on the downside of having a future, their health is likely not robust and their family is either accepting of them as they are, moved on or died off. They probably have little opportunity or capability of committing crimes. 

The same applies to many other problems that exist in the elderly. As long as society sees them as close to the end of their lives and therefore not worth the effort to change their condition, we will continue to hear less of their adversities.

You probably have not heard much about older people and substance abuse because they tend not to be documented. Research studies have found that only 41% of VA nursing home patients had their substance abuse diagnosed during their stay at the nursing home. The studies attributed the lack of reporting to the unlikeliness of problems in older people, a reluctance to ask questions for fear of offending and the belief that nursing home patients lack access to alcohol and illicit drugs.

The oldest patients, those who were married, and those with the most medical conditions were more likely to have undocumented substance abuse problems.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.