Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio, Inc.
We're proud to highlight the award-winning work of the 2019 winners of n4a's Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week, we are focusing on the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio, Inc.'s Aging and Addicted: There's a New Face to Opioid Addiction . . . And It's Older program. The agency was a 2019 Aging Innovations Award winner in the Healthy Aging category.
The Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio faced a severe problem. Older adults in its community were being affected by the opioid crisis and needed help. In order to combat the crisis, the AAA took created a multi-faceted program called Aging and Addicted: There's a New Face to Opioid Addiction. . . And It's Older to attack the problem from all sides.
First and foremost came education. Because most older adults didn't realize that the opioid crisis and addiction could touch them, the AAA had its work cut out for it. Many older adults felt they couldn't get addicted to medications like Vicodin and Percocet because these were legal drugs that had been prescribed by doctors. This prompted the AAA to develop a campaign targeted to older adults that started with educating them about the fact that older adults are prescribed opioids more often than any other segment of the population.
More than 1,000 individuals in the area were trained to identify red flags that could indicate an older adult is misusing opioids. The AAA hired a DART (Drug Abuse Response Team) officer to educate older adults and provided them with Deterra bags which could be used to dispose of their unused opioids.
While the first part of the program was preventative, the second part of the program was reactive in that it helped older adults who were already dealing with opioid addiction and misuse. The AAA's DART officer visits older adults who have had an opioid overdose while they are in the hospital. The AAA also provides transportation to related medical appointments and court dates, and coordinates therapy. The AAA's DART officer, Jeff Medere, is focused on helping older adults recovering from opioid misuse disorder get their lives back on track, which means addressing court issues, treating the disease and providing whatever support the older adult needs.
To date, more than 1,000 people have received detailed education on opioid addiction through the inspiring Aging and Addicted program.
To learn more the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio, Inc.'s Aging and Addicted: There's a New Face to Opioid Addiction . . . And It's Older program, contact Billie Johnson, President/CEO at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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For more information about the 2019 winners, read our press release and check out our book of winners to learn how your agency can implement this or similar programs in your community!