CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) – The United Health Foundation is concerned about Virginia’s elderly population, after newly released data finds concerning statistics about drug overdoses.
”The increase that we see in, in the United States across all demographics, including seniors, is an increase in drug deaths related to non-prescription opioids,” Dr. Rhonda Randall with the United Health Foundation said.
In Virginia drug deaths in the 65 plus category has increased by 127% between 2008 and 2020 according to this report.
“That’s not quite as high as the nation on average, but we’ve seen it increasing in all states,” Randall said.
Every 8.4 deaths per 100,00 are due to drug overdoses in the U.S., in Virginia the rate is lower at 5.9 per 100,000.
“We have a crisis of drug deaths across all demographics, it’s affecting adolescents, it’s affecting adults, and it’s affecting seniors,” Randall said.
The report is shining a light on how many seniors are affected.
“Maybe before this report, it might not have been so obvious that seniors are as affected as other parts of the population, that they’re not exempt from this and that we really need to pay attention to it,” Randall said.
These deaths are defined as intentional or unintentional from drug injury. The study says that drug deaths in seniors are most commonly from unintentional misuse of prescription medications.
“Seniors who have suffered from multiple chronic diseases have and other adults for that matter have a tendency to have higher risk of substance use disorders and drug overdoses,” Randall said.
The foundation hopes people will use this information to make a change.
“It should be conversations that we’re having in our families, conversations that we’re having with our doctors in screening for risk of substance use disorders,” Randall said.
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