According to studies on drug use among older Americans, their marijuana use is increasing at a steady rate year after year, and is now as common among Baby Boomers as among teens.
More recent studies on the effects of older adults using cannabis suggest that doing so helps adults 65 and older maintain their cognitive function by reducing cerebral inflammation, a main cause of age-related cognitive decline.
Among patients at FSC, health concerns appear to be a key factor for those 65 and older. As medical cannabis is particularly effective at treating chronic pain, which is more prevalent among the elderly, there’s been an increase in patients using it.
Findings show that medical cannabis is well-tolerated by patients age 75 or older and may improve symptoms like pain, anxiety and sleep difficulties. In a recent study by Ben-Gurion University (BGU) in Israel, more than 2,000 patients over 65 began cannabis treatment for pain and cancer. After six months, nearly 94% of the respondents reported improvement in their condition and a lowered level of pain.
Another BGU study on Medical Cannabis Protocols for Older Patients states that “older adults might benefit from cannabis treatment for conditions that are not adequately addressed using current medically approved therapies.”
Relief from Painful Arthritis is #1
The number one ailment we see among our mature patients is arthritis. They are relieved when we introduce them to cannabis tinctures and rubs that can actually be put on legs, knees, across the back – wherever they’re having arthritic pain. Treatment is as unique as the patient, so we maintain ongoing communication to help them find the perfect medicine for their condition.
Our Patient Engagement and Education Manager Louise Lewis works with many first-time, elderly, medical cannabis patients who can sometimes be a little nervous about trying cannabis as treatment for their qualifying condition. We alleviate any safety concerns and help them understand it’s just plant-based medicine.
“If they are smokers, I tell them to buy a pre-roll and act like they’re 15 again. Smoke it behind the shed; enjoy yourself. Then, write down how you felt during and after, and give us a call.”
Medical Cannabis as Alternative to Opioids
Patients with discomfort associated with diabetes, glaucoma, shingles or chemotherapy can also find relief via medical marijuana as a substitute for opioids. (Several recent studies have found that Medicare prescriptions for opiate painkillers are lower in states with medical marijuana programs.)
Starting with an initial orientation session with one of our Patient Advisors, the communication and help continues the entire time you are a patient of First State Compassion. Together, we find the optimal method of ingestion, fragrance or taste and dosage for that person. We work closely with patients, answering any questions they have along the way.
We are well aware that seniors metabolize medical cannabis differently than younger patients, and take into consideration what prescription drugs they might also be taking. Having that close relationship from the start helps inform the wellness journey we take with each patient towards a better quality of life.
So, while you might find it amusing to learn your grandparent has a medical cannabis card, just remember it’s no joke: Seniors are using medical cannabis because they want to get well.