Senior citizens were born and raised during a time when the use of cannabis was seen in a very different light than it is today. The plant was not only illegal, it was seen by the masses as no more than a recreational drug used by “hippies”. In the United States, this demographic is probably one of the most misinformed generations there is when it comes to cannabis. Ironically, they are also the same demographic who could benefit most from the plethora of medicinal benefits for aging individuals. This article will cover some of the big ones.
Interest in the medicinal use of cannabis and cannabinoids is mounting worldwide. Fueled by enthusiastic media coverage, patients perceive cannabis as a natural remedy for many symptoms. Cannabis use is of particular interest for older individuals who may experience symptoms such as chronic pain, sleep disturbance, cancer-related symptoms and mood disorders, all of which are often poorly controlled by current drug treatments that may also incur medication-induced side effects.
Cannabis for Medicine
One of the first major benefits of cannabis use for the elderly is the use of cannabis in place of other commonly used pharmaceuticals. It’s no secret that many prescription medications come with “side-effects”. But did you know cannabis can not only help to replace certain medications, but it can also help minimize the unpleasant side effects of them? Most senior citizens take prescriptions every single day. The side effects of consuming cannabis are insignificant in comparison. There was even a study done by Northwell Health called, “Older Adults’ Use of Medical Marijuana for Chronic Pain: A Multisite Community-Based Survey”, that determined cannabis is very successful at managing chronic pain and helps to reduce the usage of opioids among older people. Read more specifics about that study here.
Being from a generation who was not accurately informed about cannabis, many senior citizens believe that cannabis is highly addictive. It has taken a long time for the accurate awareness to spread. They are now learning that someone could consume cannabis every day and still have the ability to stop “cold turkey”. Many people stopping cannabis use describe it as being similar to quitting caffeinated beverages or coffee. Also, no one has ever died from THC use. A person would have to smoke over 4 pounds of cannabis in a setting to experience toxicity, and even then, it would not kill you.
Another tall tale of using cannabis is its association with causing brain damage. There is no conclusive study that shows cannabis can cause brain damage by killing brain cells. In fact, there are studies where Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients were helped by cannabis. The substance is said to encourage the growth of new neural pathways, thereby allowing those with impaired brain function to halt further brain degeneration and support proper brain function.
Improving the Quality of Life for Senior Citizens
Many senior citizens fear using cannabis regularly because they do not always want to feel “high”. This is completely understandable, as many are still living active lifestyles. There are many different strains of cannabis out there. There are strains that are intended to ease chronic pain, strains to keep one energized and focused, and strains to help with sleep disorders. Not every strain that’s out there will cause psychoactive effects. Numerous strains on the market offer the combined benefits of CBD, terpenes and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids, without the THC.
Another misconception many seniors have about cannabis is that they have to smoke it to gain the medical rewards. There are a variety of ways to consume cannabis. One of the most popular methods of intake among seniors is in the form of oils or tinctures, which allows for a very quick absorption When using a tincture, a couple drops of the oil are placed under the tongue for 30 seconds and then swallowed. With this method, there is no smoking involved. Eating cannabis edibles is also a growing trend with the aging crowd because of the long-lasting results and discreet consumption.
Did you know there are many cannabis infused ointments and creams that are said to help with symptoms of arthritis and neuropathy pain? This market is growing rapidly with muscle pain, back pain and sore joint relief. These are very effective and usually smell nice. They also don’t get you “high” which makes them safe to use throughout the day.
Cannabis is also known to increase the appetite. One of the most dangerous health risks that senior citizens face is loss of appetite, contributing to extreme weight loss. Cannabis has been successful in providing relief for nausea and generally stimulating appetite. A new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology acknowledges a connection between cannabis use and body weight, showing that rates of obesity are lower by a third in people who smoke cannabis at least three times a week, compared to those who don’t use cannabis at all.
As more states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use — 30 states plus the District of Columbia to date — the cannabis industry is booming. Among the fastest growing group of users: people over 50, with especially steep increases among those 65 and older. And many dispensaries like us are tailoring their product selection to seniors who are seeking alternative treatments for their aches, pains and other medical conditions.