Cannabis companies primarily target young and youthful individuals in their product campaigns. New forms of cannabis and novel delivery systems are constantly invented to make the products appealing to the ever-evolving younger generation.
That being said, did you know that according to recent studies, cannabis use among seniors aged 65 and above has risen considerably? One particular study discovered that from 2015 to 2018, 1.8% more senior citizens started using cannabis (from 2.4% to 4.2%).
Another study conducted earlier indicated that from 2006 and 2013, the number of seniors taking cannabis increased by 250%.
This sudden surge in cannabis use seems to be caused by senior boomers born between 1947 and 1964. Over the years, this group has come to embrace cannabis and all the health benefits it offers.
Reasons why seniors turn to cannabis
Why are millions of elderly folks turning to cannabis? Is there a particular reason why they would choose to take cannabis at their age as opposed to taking pharmaceutical drugs?
People are slowly evolving and embracing marijuana is among the changes we are witnessing. In Australia, a majority of people support the legalization of the cannabis plant for recreational use. In 2016, the country legalized the use of cannabis for medical reasons and since then, millions of Australians have benefited from the plant’s numerous therapeutic values.
Consequently, cannabis has now become readily available in local pharmacies, grocery stores, and online shops.
Cannabis helps alleviate a number of symptoms related to ailments like cancer, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, nerve pain, back pain, and Parkinson’s disease. These conditions primarily affect the seniors, and any product that helps with the symptoms is highly appreciated.
Cannabis can effectively ease pain, inflammation, depression, lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, ocular pressure, and MS.
There are thousands of marijuana strains, and once an individual finds one that works for them, they can easily manage conditions like arthritis and neuropathic pain. These types of conditions are best managed using topical application of cannabis on localized areas for instant relief.
The second reason seniors have turned to cannabis is that the plant reduces the number of prescription drugs they have to take.
Looking at a senior’s medicine cabinet, you’d be shocked to see how many bottles of prescription drugs are in there.
On average, an older adult spends almost $3000 per year on pharmaceutical drugs annually. Cannabis’s average annual cost is $650. Most of these drugs are used to manage pain, anxiety, and depression, which cannabis does effectively. By choosing cannabis, they choose a safer, effective, and cheaper option.
Also, marijuana helps eliminate polypharmacy, which can take a toll on senior citizens with a foggy memory. When cannabis reduces the number of drugs they have to take, it makes it easier for them. Additionally, this helps reduce the side effects that pharmaceutical drugs are known for. Cannabis, unlike opioids, is safe, natural, and presents no risk of abuse or dependence.
Does marijuana pose any risks for elderly citizens?
Marijuana is generally well tolerated, especially when taken in reasonable doses. In high doses, it is known to cause paranoia, dizziness, and anxiety.
Minimal seniors are reporting side effects of cannabis, maybe due to its illegal nature or fear of the stigma surrounding cannabis users.
Compared to pharmaceutical drugs, cannabis does offer a better and safer form of treatment. However, for seniors, side effects like drowsiness and dizziness may result in falls that may cause serious injuries. Also, confusion and paranoia may result in delirium.
To avoid such instances, seniors are advised to take low doses of cannabis. Edibles and vaporizers are best prescribed to seniors since dosing is easy and the chances of mistakenly overdosing are minimized.
As mentioned above, seniors do take numerous types of medications. Cannabis is made up of hundreds of chemical compounds, the most abundant being THC and CBD. These two cannabinoids are sometimes known to reduce or increase specific drugs’ blood levels (especially those that come with a grapefruit warning).
Seniors and cannabis consumers, in general, should avoid taking cannabis when on blood thinners or anti-seizure medication. The interaction may be fatal; hence it is prudent to talk to your doctor before starting cannabis. They will let you know if it is safe to consume cannabis, and if it is, they can constantly monitor your progress to make sure things are fine and that you are adjusting well.
Cannabis and its role in alleviating depression and anxiety in seniors
Anxiety and depression are two primary mental conditions affecting seniors. Most of them either live alone or in elderly homes, far from close family members.
The loneliness and isolation may trigger depressive tendencies, which can be alleviated with a cannabis joint or edible.
THC is known to trigger Dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for causing happiness and feelings of bliss. This mood change can be highly beneficial to seniors as it can help drive anxiety and depression away.
Laughing with his/her friends at the home or neighborhood while toking may help improve the quality of their lives. Laughing is known to boost immunity, promote heart health, increase one’s life span, and facilitates muscle relaxation.
The research available on the effectiveness of cannabis for seniors and other individuals is limited. Research and development are stalled due to unfavorable regulations. For example, cannabis is still classified as a schedule 1 drug and therefore considered illegal by federal law.
It is impossible to state that cannabis is safe for all seniors definitively. Each individual should talk to a medical practitioner and get a professional opinion on whether it is safe to consume cannabis and its related products.
Anecdotal evidence and small-scale studies show that cannabis effectively manages pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, and neuropathy.
There is a growing need for more research to investigate the therapeutic benefits that cannabis can offer its consumers. The plant seems to present a lot of potential, which we ought to take advantage of and promote our health and wellness.