Study: More Seniors Using Cannabis to Treat Common Ailments

A recent study by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society suggests that seniors are using cannabis more frequently in the treatment of common ailments like pain, arthritis, and anxiety.

Full story after the jump.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that 61 percent of participants – all 65-and-older – started using cannabis after age 60 with 53 percent of the 568 surveyed saying they used cannabis on a daily or weekly basis.

The majority – 78 percent – said they used cannabis exclusively for medical purposes. Pain and arthritis were the most common conditions respondents were using cannabis to treat (73 percent), followed by sleep disturbance (29 percent), anxiety (24 percent), and depression (17 percent). About half of those surveyed obtain their cannabis in dispensaries, with lotions (35 percent), tinctures (35 percent), and smoking (30 percent) being the most common administration forms.

Nearly all (94 percent) of respondents said their family knows about their cannabis use, with about half saying their friends knew, but just 41 percent said their healthcare provider knew.

Kevin Yang, co-first author and third-year medical student at UC San Diego, indicated that the survey suggests more older users are willing to tell their physician about their cannabis use, “which reflects that cannabis use is no longer as stigmatized as it was previously.”

Dr. Alison Moore, senior author and chief of the Division of Geriatrics in the Department of Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, said the study’s findings “demonstrate the need for the clinical workforce to become aware of cannabis use by seniors and to gain awareness of both the benefits and risks of cannabis use in their patient population.”

“Given the prevalence of use, it may be important to incorporate evidence-backed information about cannabis use into medical school and use screening questions about cannabis as a regular part of clinic visits.” – Moore in a statement

The authors conclude that “cannabis use by older adults is likely to increase due to medical need, favorable legalization, and attitudes.”

Patients surveyed in the study were seen at the Medicine for Seniors Clinic at UC San Diego Health over a period of 10 weeks.

A recent study by Israel’s Haifa University School of Public Health suggests that senior citizens who use medical cannabis to treat chronic pain show no signs of cognitive decline.

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