Adult / Older Adult services

We understand the unique issues which can affect you at this point in your life

When it comes to addiction and mental health treatment and recovery, one size does not fit all. Treatment options and recovery services should be age and culturally appropriate and tailored to each individual client. At Heather R. Hayes & Associates, we understand that adults, and older adults in particular, have certain requirements for recovery that need to be taken into account if treatment is going to be effective and sustained.

When we enter the later stages of life, we are often subject to a range of challenges regarding:

  • Medical needs
  • Psychological well-being
  • Social challenges

Contrary to popular opinion, no one is too old or too young to have a mental health condition or use substances. Some find that age exacerbates existing problem, some find that they are only ready to seek help later in life, and some people find that they develop a condition later in life. However, the good news is that you are never too old to find recovery. At Heather R. Hayes & Associates we have helped hundreds of older adults receive the help which they deserve.

Mental Health and Older Adults

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 15% of adults aged over 60 have a mental health condition, with the most common being depression and anxiety. There can be risk factors for mental health conditions at any point in life, but some stressors are more likely to occur later in older adults. This can include:

  • Loss of cognitive capacities
  • Decline in functional ability
  • Prolonged injuries
  • Chronic pain
  • Medication interactions
  • Poor diet or malnutrition

In addition to those, older adults are more likely to experience bereavement, financial troubles, and loneliness.

Signs and Symptoms of Mental Health Conditions in Older Adults

If you are concerned about your own mental health, or that of a loved one, there are some signs that you can look out for. It’s important to remember that older adults are more likely to report physical complaints than mental ones. These signs include:

  • Confusion, disorientation
  • Problems with decision making
  • Changes in weight and appetite
  • Depressed mood lasting longer than two weeks
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feeling suicidal or mentioning suicide
  • Physical problems that don’t seem to have a cause
  • Neglecting their social life
  • Unexplained lack of energy

Substance Use Disorder in Older Adults

A large percentage of older adults are affected by misuse of alcohol and prescription drugs, yet until far too recently, this fact was often overlooked in clinical practice, and not always recognized by family members and loved ones.

Alcohol misuse is one of the most common substance-related problems facing older adults, followed closely by prescription drug misuse. The symptoms of substance misuse and chemical dependency in older adults are often considered by healthcare providers to be the result of the natural aging process, but this is a dangerous misconception.

Furthermore, due to culture and society, the generations that older adults are coming from are often reluctant or dismissive about trauma and substance use issues. They are more likely than younger clients to be secretive about their substance use and less likely to seek professional help. As a result, there are masses of older adults in need of treatment who do not receive it.

For treatment services to be appropriate for the older adult, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that any treatment provider include the following features:

  • Age-specific group-based treatment
  • A focus on coping skills regarding depression, loss and loneliness
  • Emphasis on securing a social support network
  • Appropriate pace and content of treatment
  • Interested and experienced treatment staff
  • Strong connections to medical services

Common Drugs of Abuse Among Older Adults

As of 2018, almost one million adults adults aged 65 and over are living with a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) 3. SUD-related admissions to treatment centers among the older adult population more than doubled between 2000 and 2012.

Older adults are also prescribed medication on a more regular basis than younger adults, placing them at a higher risk of harmful drug interaction and habitual prescription drug use.

Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug among the older adult population. Illicit drug use is more prevalent among American older adults than older adults in any other country.

One study reported that 1.4% of adults aged 50 and over used prescription opioids nonmedically in the previous year.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction in Older Adults

Recognizing substance misuse and abuse among older adults given that the signs and symptoms are similar to natural symptoms of aging. However, noticing these signs is important as it can mean the difference between life and death. Older adults are at a particularly high risk of suffering from the negative health consequences of substance and alcohol use. In addition, the likelihood of falling is increased, and there may be a lack of assistance given the prevalence of loneliness and isolation among the older population.

The following are some of the major signs of substance abuse in older adults:

  • Drastic mood changes
  • Suspicious “loss” of prescriptions, lying to doctors
  • Falling asleep mid-conversation
  • Drastic changes to sleeping habits (not related to another illness)
  • Confusion and memory loss (this also relates to aging)
  • Multiple prescriptions for the same medication labelled with different doctor’s names
  • Social withdrawal
  • Secrecy, lying, and denial, about substance use habits
  • Frequently smelling of alcohol
  • Messy, unkempt house or disheveled appearance

Adult and Older Adult Recovery Services at Heather R. Hayes & Associates

At Heather R. Hayes & Associates, we understand the complexities around recovery services for older adults. It can be difficult for family members to know how to approach their older loved ones concerning potential substance use or mental health. We provide compassionate, expert-led recovery services such as Trauma-Informed Responsive Intervention™, case management, recovery coaching, and sober companionship to all of our clients. We also have access to a wide range of recovery resources so we can allocate the most appropriate resources for our clients based on their unique needs.

If you are struggling, or you have an older loved one in need of professional help and support regarding an any of these issues, please reach out to us today.

For further reading please see:

Intervention for Older Adults

Eating Disorders in Older Adults

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Heather Hayes & Associates is your trusted ally for navigating the complex world of treatment and recovery options for substance abuse, mental health issues, and process addictions.

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Heather R. Hayes & Associates, Inc, offers experienced, trained professionals with clinical oversight, providing discreet and compassionate services in any situation.
Heather R. Hayes & Associates, Inc. is committed to providing the highest level of care without compromise, and we are not employed by, nor do we receive any form of payment or compensation from, the providers with whom we consult for placement or referrals.

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