Officials Hold Roundtable Discussion on Risks of Senior Prescription Drug/Opioid Use

| January 12, 2017

Teresa-OsborneHARRISBURG, Pa. — Wednesday, Pennsylvania Department of Aging Secretary Teresa Osborne hosted a roundtable discussion with older Pennsylvanians and public officials regarding the risk of prescription drug/opioid use as it relates to seniors.

“As the nation tackles an opioid epidemic much public attention has been devoted to how the disease of addiction and its devastating effects impacts young people, yet substance abuse and the disease of addiction does not discriminate,” Secretary Osborne said. “This crisis impacts older Pennsylvanians every day, which is why the Department of Aging is committed to engaging and working with all stakeholders in frank discussions about how the opioid crisis is impacting our seniors.”

According to a recent John Hopkins University study, Americans 65 years of age or older make up 13 percent of the total United States population, yet they take approximately 33 percent of all prescription drugs.

“Recognizing that physicians increasingly prescribe seniors pain medications to address chronic pain from arthritis, cancer, and other illnesses that become more common as we age, we must account for the needs of and risk factors to our seniors,” Secretary Osborne said. “Education about the proper storage, use, and disposal of any unused or expired drugs are critical steps that must be taken to help curb the opioid epidemic.”

The roundtable discussion focused on how the Department of Aging can better work with local organizations to raise awareness and combat this issue, the current needs in the community related to prescription drug abuse, and possible solutions to address the needs of local officials.

In 2016, Governor Tom Wolf and the legislature took significant strides to combat this epidemic by passing legislation to strengthen the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, establish education curriculum on safe prescribing, and create more Drug-Take back Boxes for the drop-off of drugs among other important initiatives.

“Addressing the opioid crisis is a centerpiece of the Wolf Administration, and the Pennsylvania Department of Aging is doing its part to ensure that we also shine a light on the issue of addiction among seniors, an affected population that too often goes undetected,” Secretary Osborne said.

For more information on the Department of Aging and services for older adults, visit aging.pa.gov.


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