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Why Geriatrics are Investigating Medical Cannabis

In recent years, a significant number of the people making enquiries about medical cannabis are defined as geriatric, as they fall into the age bracket of those aged 65 and over. Despite much of this group being cannabis naïve, having never used it recreationally, geriatrics are enquiring about medical cannabis for many valid reasons.

For instance:

  • Many geriatrics are looking to find an alternative to their current ineffective medicines in order to control their symptoms.
  • A lot of geriatrics may also be suffering with forms of chronic pain or arthritis and may be looking for treatment options distinct from daily pharmaceuticals like opioids, gabapentin or NSAIDs to avoid side effects that may have proved intolerable in the past.
  • With a growing coverage of CBD oil and medical cannabis in the media, many older patients have become interested in the use of medical cannabis for potential brain ageing benefits and possible ‘preventative medicine’ effects of CBD in brain ageing diseases.
  • Many geriatric patients have a high pill burden and are therefore looking to decrease the number of pills and medications they have to take every day.
  • With reports of CBD’s efficacy in aiding with stress, anxiety and general quality of life, seniors are growing interested in medical cannabis use as these side effects are common in older people living with chronic disease.

Doctors might also be interested in investigating medical cannabis treatments further for their geriatric patients in order to wean them off from opioids used for chronic pain treatment due to a high harm to benefit ratio. Medical cannabis use means that these patients wouldn’t be left with no medication at all, particularly if the patients are not able to take medications like NSAIDs due to GI side effects or renal impairments.

Medical cannabis offers significant potential for the improvement of chronic pain conditions, a reduction in opioid use and an improvement in the general quality of life of the geriatric population as symptoms from pain to appetite to mood could be improved.

Research from the Dent Neurologic Institute in New York supports this idea, as they found that medical cannabis use gave elderly patients relief from a variety of conditions including: sleep disorders, chronic pain and anxiety related to diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis, neuropathy and spinal cord damage.

Summary

As medical cannabis shows promise for the treatment of conditions commonly affecting geriatric patients like chronic pain, Alzheimer’s disease and anxiety and mental health disorders whilst maintaining a low addictive potential, CBD, CBD oil and medical cannabis products could become increasingly useful in the future for elderly patients.

Indeed, with geriatrics using over 50% of the NHS budget and representing over a third of all drug prescriptions, the potential scope for medical cannabis treatment with this population demographic could be huge.

With medical cannabis use by seniors already steadily increasing, with a 250 percent increase in cannabis use amongst seniors from 2006 to 2013, a trend for cannabis use in this age bracket is already taking place with the potential for this trend to continue seeming likely as the accessibility of medical cannabis continues to improve over time and the health benefits of cannabis are increasingly documented.

As always, like with any other age group, geriatric patients should only proactively seek to use medical cannabis products after a close consultation with and careful assessment from an experienced medical practitioner.

Further investigation and research into medicinal cannabis and alternative medical options is thoroughly encouraged by The Academy, particularly through the use of our own online coursesevidence base and whitepapers. The rest of our resources are available on our website. We urge anyone considering use of medical cannabis products to consult with a trained medical professional prior to beginning use.

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