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Assisted Living Options for People with Drug Addictions

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Residential Assisted Living & Rehab for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Although alcohol remains the number one substance of abuse among older adults over the age of 65, there are also increasing rates of illicit and prescription drug misuse to be mindful of.1 Individuals in this population often deal with chronic health issues and other stressors, which further raises the risk of substance abuse and the implications of this type of detrimental behavior.2

Some senior citizens are dealing with drug and alcohol abuse for years or decades starting from a very young age, while others develop addiction later in life.7 Be that as it may, assisted living facilities may not have the capacity to provide appropriate specialized treatment.4 

Because of this, finding an assisted living community for a senior loved one who is battling alcohol abuse or another form of substance abuse can be challenging.3 If they need treatment, seeking an inpatient rehab center or an outpatient rehab program for the elderly might be a more suitable choice.4

But, what happens after rehab? Although there is a diversity of assisted living communities and retirement homes to choose from, they all have different policies regarding alcohol consumption and the use of licit or illicit substances in general.

Some facilities are flexible and lenient when it comes to alcohol consumption, and others are rigid, which makes choosing the right facility for a recovering loved one a decision not be taken lightly.5

What Is a Residential Rehab Center?

Residential rehab centers are facilities that offer long-term treatment as well as accommodation to recovering individuals. Treatment and the scope of services available at these facilities are normally comprehensive and include addressing co-occurring disorders, learning new coping skills, and facilitating lasting recovery.4

Rehab centers focus on substance use disorder treatment, which means they are not a legitimate alternative choice to a nursing home for elderly people suffering from substance use disorder. However, there are rehab centers that cater specifically to the needs of the elderly population.4 Treatment-seeking individuals in the older adult category can spend months at residential rehab centers which offer long-term inpatient rehabilitation within a residential community.4

How Does Assisted Living Work?

Assisted living facilities are living facilities that offer long-term residential care and accommodate seniors who require assistance with daily living activities on account of an illness or temporary or permanent disability. These individuals may still be able to function independently up to a point, but they are not capable of living totally independently.3

However, these facilities do not normally have the resources to provide 24-hour care to individuals who are bedridden.3

These activities may include:3

  • Assistance with hygiene and personal care tasks
  • Assistance with trips to the toilet and incontinence care
  • Grooming
  • Light housekeeping
  • Medication management
  • Transportation
  • Assistance with personal errands 
  • Assistance with mobility issues, if any

For the elderly who are recovering from alcohol addiction, an assisted living facility which does not have a strict zero-alcohol policy but allows substance use is not an ideal environment.1 Many assisted living facilities and nursing homes allow the use of alcohol but with restricted access and alcohol is not included in the regular menu.5

Staff needs to be trained to handle patients with addiction and recognize the symptoms of withdrawal and the warning signs of relapse. This is not likely to be the case in a facility which does not specialize in addiction treatment. A rehab center also offers on-site counseling services which help promote and sustain recovery and maintain sobriety.4

How Much Does Assisted Living Cost?

The cost of a prolonged stay at an assisted living facility can be steep, depending on the level of comfort, care intensity, and the selection of amenities available. The different tiers of cost for assisted living facilities depend on the level of service, with different factors driving the cost up.6

Regardless of their age, elderly people with a drinking problem may not be ready to admit they have it. Just like a person with a drinking problem can be in denial, so can their friends and family.1 

Another potential problem stems from the fact that some assisted living facilities are short-staffed and limited in terms of resources. This can mean that residents are unable to receive the care they need and that issues such as excessive alcohol intake may go unnoticed as caregivers may not recognize the signs of alcohol abuse and their long-term effect on care recipients.4

Seniors and Alcoholism

Two forms of substance abuse to which the elderly population over the age of 60 is most susceptible are alcohol abuse and the abuse of prescription drugs.7 

Additionally, many elderly individuals are able to appear sober and function normally despite being intoxicated. What’s more, the effects of alcohol can resemble the side effects of certain medications. The effects of alcoholism can also be similar to the symptoms of certain mental health disorders.7

Recreational alcohol use is a socially acceptable behavior, and many people never develop a drinking problem because they simply have many other responsibilities. However, when a person reaches retirement age and they have more time and fewer responsibilities on their hands, occasional alcohol consumption is more likely to turn into a habitual, addictive behavior.7

Sometimes the elderly have difficulty controlling their alcohol intake, but neither they nor their family members or caregivers may realize that they have developed a drinking problem. However, alcohol addiction is a common condition that the elderly struggle with. It’s estimated that a whopping 65% of people 65 and older report high-risk drinking.7

What makes the situation worse is the fact that alcohol can be easy to obtain and alcohol consumption remains socially acceptable. Some individuals co-abuse alcohol and prescription drugs, which can have an even more devastating effect on their health.8

Seniors and Substance Abuse

Elderly drug abuse is a huge problem and illicit or licit substance abuse does affect a considerable number of adults over the age of 60. Of course, this is not to be interpreted solely in terms of illicit substances. Prescription opioid abuse is another legitimate cause for concern, and one that is associated with a high risk of overdose.8 

Drug diversion takes an alarming toll on patients nationwide and it can lead to overdose. The fact that many people are in denial about the existence of this problem makes it even more difficult to put under control.8

Inpatient Rehab Centers for the Elderly

Senior citizens battling drug and alcohol abuse first undergo medically supervised detox or hospital treatment immediately upon admission to a facility before they are ready to begin rehabilitation. Some rehab centers offer comprehensive care which includes treatment for a co-occurring disorder.4 

Assisted living facilities are long-term residential care communities designed for people who need assistance with the activities of daily living or who have a condition that prevents them from living totally independently.3 In other words, addiction services, even if available at an assisted living facility, are not likely to be as intensive as those provided at a dedicated rehabilitation facility.4 

Inpatient treatment offers a high intensity of care in a safe, structured environment. Inpatient rehab may also offer a higher level of stability and continuity of care than outpatient rehabilitation.4 These rehab centers can potentially fulfil the role of an assisted living place for a period of time, until the person is considered to have achieved stability in recovery.4

The intake process includes a professional in-depth evaluation of a treatment-seeking individual’s unique situation. Performing this assessment can be critical to the future course and outcome of treatment of an elderly person.4

Outpatient Treatment for Those Staying in an Assisted Living Facility

Outpatient treatment is a viable solution for older adults living in assisted living facilities. Recovering individuals can attend treatment sessions on a regular basis, without having to relocate to another facility, which would be a requirement for treatment in an inpatient setting.4

Recovering individuals can even receive quality treatment from an addiction treatment specialist whilst they’re still staying at their own assisted living place, depending on their individual needs and progress toward recovery.4

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for the Elderly

Some individuals battle a dual diagnosis, which means they have a co-occurring disorder, which is a substance use disorder co-occuring with a mental health disorder.4 Residential treatment may provide assistance with substance abuse and mental health issues, including but not limited to:4

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Bipolar disorder

Long-Term Rehab Treatment for the Elderly

Chronic substance abuse may lead to addiction and friends and family can be at a loss as to what to do. When it comes to the mechanisms behind alcohol and drug addiction, so many questions remain unanswered and friends and family are often clueless as to what they can do to help a loved one battling addiction.8 

While individual circumstances may differ, there are several principles of effective treatment that seem to be universal, including starting treatment as soon as possible, reliance on medication-assisted therapy, as well as adequate treatment duration.4 There are age-specific programs which may be more suitable for seniors in recovery than treatment centers and programs which accept treatment-seeking individuals of different ages.4

Those considering assisted living with substance use disorder could also consider long-term residential treatment options. This may be beneficial especially for individuals who deal with a chronic substance use disorder and have a history of relapses. Support from family and friends can play an important role in a person’s recovery process and in helping them return to a productive life of sobriety.4 

What Are the Benefits of Assisted Living for Seniors With Addiction?

Assisted living offers a number of benefits to seniors who can no longer take proper care of themselves, including but not limited to:3

  • Supportive environment and companionship
  • Trained staff
  • Medication management and medical monitoring
  • Wellness programs and similar recreational activities

How to Select an Assisted Living Facility for Seniors With Addiction?

For many seniors battling addiction, the best course of action is to complete rehab before moving to an assisted living facility.7

The different deciding factors to take into consideration while selecting an assisted living include:4

  • Staff certifications
  • Counseling services
  • Mental health resources
  • Group programs
  • Medication guidelines

All these factors ensure that recovering seniors can receive the quality and level of care and supervision they need to stay in recovery.4

How to Find Assisted Living Rehab Facilities for Substance Abuse Near Me?

American Addiction Centers has a nationwide presence and treatment centers in locations across the nation. These treatment centers offer a high standard of care and 24/7 assistance and support from trained medical staff. 

After a person has completed rehabilitation, they may transition to an assisted living facility. Some individuals may need some form of continuing care, especially when their treatment plan includes maintenance therapy. They may need to continue attending regular treatment sessions in an outpatient setting, even long after completing rehab.4

AAC hotline representatives are available to discuss treatment-seeking individuals’ specific needs. There is also a helpful online directory which enables users to search for facilities by location. Some facilities may be worth traveling out of state, and location is not the only factor to consider when looking for the best facility. A more important factor to take into consideration concerns actual treatment quality and intensity, as well as whether treatment follows a personalized plan.4

Does My Insurance Cover Long-Term Rehab Treatment (Assisted Living) for Elderly?

Most US health insurance plans do not cover assisted living, but insurance may cover detox and rehabilitation, at least for a certain period of time. Longer rehab options with a more comprehensive offering of services are not likely to be covered by insurance. However, it is easy enough to verify one’s insurance coverage and find an affordable, low-cost treatment option, so the remaining portion of the care cost can be covered through private pay.9

Frequently Asked Questions

Sources

  1. Alexis Kuerbis, LCSW, PhD, Paul Sacco, PhD, LCSW, Dan G. Blazer, MD, PhD, and Alison A. Moore, MD, MPHd. (2014). Substance Abuse Among Older Adults
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Older Adults
  3. National Institute on Aging. (2021). Residential Facilities, Assisted Living, and Nursing Homes
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide, Third Edition.
  5. National Institute on Aging. (2021). How to Choose a Nursing Home.
  6. National Institute on Aging. (2021). Paying for Care.
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021). Substance Use in Older Adults DrugFacts.
  8. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2012). Older Americans Behavioral Health Issue No. 5: Prescription Medication Misuse and Abuse Among Older Adults
  9. FindTreatment.gov. (2019). Paying for Treatment: Understanding the Cost of Treatment
  10. Social Security Administration. (2021). Code of Federal Regulations: Drug Addiction and Alcoholism
  11. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2021). Recovery Homes Help People in Early Recovery.
  12. United States Department of Justice. (2021). Guardianship: Key Concepts and Resources
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The editorial staff of Projectknow.com is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands of pages for accuracy and relevance. Our reviewers consistently monitor the latest research from SAMHSA, NIDA, and other reputable sources to provide our readers the most accurate content on the web.
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