With age comes wisdom, the saying goes. Aging may also bring arthritis, glaucoma, chronic pain, and more. Typically, seniors take prescription medications to ease the symptoms. While they might be effective, these treatments can have some unpleasant side effects. Enter cannabis. Cannabis use is on the rise among seniors. The question many people ask, however, is, “Is weed safe for older adults?” Here’s what you need to know.
How Cannabis Can Help
One of the major draws of cannabis for older adults (and for many other people as well) is that it doesn’t have the same unwanted side effects as conventional prescription medications. The plant can also help with many different conditions that affect seniors, such as:
Chronic pain is an issue that affects numerous seniors, and it can keep them from moving around or doing things that they enjoy. Cannabis use can help to alleviate the symptoms, making them more bearable.
The right strains of cannabis can help to alleviate the side effects of cancer treatments, such as nausea, vomiting, and nerve pain.
Insomnia is a common problem in seniors, as sleep quality diminishes. As with anyone else, poor sleep increases the risk of developing serious physical and mental health issues. Cannabis may help seniors to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. It also provides an alternative to sleep aids that won’t leave seniors feeling groggy in the morning.
Anxiety and Depression
Many seniors develop anxiety, often as a result of isolation. They may also develop anxiety. Cannabis, high CBD strains, in particular, can help to alleviate symptoms of both of these issues.
Cannabis can help with common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, such as depression and loss of appetite. A study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that the plant may also help to slow the progression of the disease.
Potential Downsides of Cannabis for the Elderly
While cannabis provides many potential benefits and uses for the elderly, there are a few potential risks that should be considered as well:
- Interactions with current medications
- Higher THC strains could exacerbate issues such as anxiety or cause hallucinations
- It may increase instability, increasing the fall risk
- Smoking could exacerbate respiratory conditions
- Some strains increase hunger, which could cause problems for seniors who are already overweight
Tips for Safe Use
If you’re considering cannabis use for yourself or your aging loved one is interested in giving it a try, there are a few things that you can do to help increase success with the treatment:
- Speak with your physician first
- Ask about potential interactions with current medications
- Understand the potential side effects
- Start low and go slow
- If you’re concerned about THC, try a high CBD, low THC strain
Best Strains for Seniors
With hundreds of strains on the market, you might not know where to start. These are some of the best strains for seniors:
- AK-47 for anxiety and depression
- Harlequin for pain and arthritis
- Green Crack for fatigue
- Blue Dream for insomnia
Know Your Options
If you’re starting to feel the effects of aging (or you have a loved one who’s in their senior years) and you’re interested in using cannabis, you should first consult with your doctor. Understanding the pros, cons, and your options can help you to make the best decision possible.