Monday, May 05, 2008

Conference on Older Adults & Substance Abuse

The Pennsylvania Behavioral Health and Aging Coalition and the Pennsylvania Association of County Drug and Alcohol Administrators will host their first annual "Older Adults & Substance Abuse" conference on Thursday, June 19, & Friday, 20, 2008, at the Penn Stater Conference Center, affiliated with Penn State University, in State College, PA.

This important subject -- older adults' addictions -- receives greater attention, particularly as America's population (including the "boomers") ages. For example, the American Society of Aging, of San Francisco, CA, lists resources (Books, Workshop Guides, Bibliography, Videos, Booklets, & Pamphlets) specifically on this topic, under its web page entitled Alcohol, Medication & Other Drugs -- Abuse & Misuse Among Older Adults.

In another aging state, Florida, in 2006, the Hanley Center, in West Palm Beach, FL, had sponsored a "National Aging & Addition Conference" which was "designed to inspire, educate and launch discussion of prevention and treatment of addiction among older adults, both now and as the older population explodes within the next decade."

In Pennsylvania, the older population will explode too, and a similar conference is appropriate.

One of the speakers at the upcoming conference, Cynthia Zubritsky, will address that expected demographic change:

Pennsylvania currently ranks third in the country in the percentage of 60+ residents.

Based upon the 2000 Census, nearly 20% of the population of Pennsylvania is 60 or older. There are approximately 2.5 million persons over the age of 60, with almost 238,000 over the age of 85. One in five older Pennsylvanians lives in or near poverty and over 18% are members of a minority group.

By the year 2020, Pennsylvania’s over- 60 population is expected to increase to 25% of the population with over 3 million seniors; those 85 and over are expected to increase
by 50%.

The current treatment service system is unprepared to serve the large numbers of individuals who will need treatment. This session provides the demographic framework to understand the treatment needs of older adults.
Many issues arising from this demographic change were discussed in a "2007 Pennsylvania Aging and Behavioral Health Forum Behavioral Health Issues In Older Adults" held on October 18, 2007, at the Masonic Home, in Elizabethtown, PA. That one-day forum included a session on "Older Adults and Substance Misuse, Abuse and Addiction", which noted the "[c]urrent and projected incidence and prevalence of older adults with substance abuse/misuse and addiction issues."

Substance abuse in that growing group of older adults, increases. See: "Predicted Increase in Addiction Among Older Americans", posted by Pennsylvania Treatment Centers:

A new survey predicts that the number of Americans age 50 or older who are addicted to alcohol or other drugs will double by 2020.

Researchers predict that there will be 5 million people age 50 or older with addictions by 2020, up from 2.5 million in 1999.

Misuse of alcohol and prescription drugs play a huge role in the trend; so is the willingness of Baby Boomers to take a wide range of drugs to deal with physical and mental health problems.

"There is a huge concern that what we're going to be seeing is a tidal wave of seriously affected substance abusers in later life," said Frederic Blow, of the University of Michigan Medical School. * * *
The brochure for the upcoming Conference in State College notes that the keynote speaker, Gayathri Dowling, Ph.D, will frame future concerns posed by the aging of America in the 21st Century.
Dr. Dowling will set the stage by discussing the current and projected extent of the substance abuse problems among older adults.

She will discuss issues that include physical and behavioral health issues in older adults including how drug abuse affects and impacts on the aging brain.

Dr. Dowling is representing the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and is the Deputy Chief for the Science Policy Branch Office of Science Policy and Communications.
This is the published Agenda for the Conference:
Day One -- Thursday, June 19, 2008

10:00 – 5:30 p.m. -- Registration Opens

1:00 – 1:30 p.m. -- Welcome & Announcements

1:30 – 2:30 p.m. -- Drug Abuse in the 21st Century: What Problems Lie Ahead

2:30 – 2:45 p.m. -- Our Aging Population – A Word About Demographics

2:45 – 3:45 p.m. -- Late Life Addictions

3:45 – 4:00 p.m. -- Break

4:00 – 5:00 p.m. -- The Deadly Triangle: Gambling, Depression, and Addiction

5:30 – 6:30 p.m. -- Reception & Film

Day Two -- Friday, June 20, 2008

8:30 – 8:45 a.m. -- Welcome & Announcements

8:45 – 10:00 a.m. -- Aging & Addiction: The Complexity of Diagnosis and Treatment
Of Substance Abuse in Today’s Older Adults vs. Tomorrow’s Baby Boomers
10:00 – 10:15 a.m. -- Break

10:15 – 12:00 p.m. -- Project MEDS (Medication Education Designed for Seniors)
Early Intervention for Older Adults
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. -- Lunch

1:00 – 2:45 p.m. -- Lifespan Geriatric Addictions Program

2:45 – 3:00 p.m. -- Break

3:00 – 4:00 p.m. -- Older Adults & Substance Abuse – Where Do We Go From Here?

4:00 – 4:15 p.m. -- Adjournment
If you are interested in attending, note the "Reservation Procedure" set forth at the end of the Conference's promotional brochure (PDF, 8 pages).