The older you get, the more experience you have (like in a video game).
A 4-year old toddler is just a level 4 human—they haven’t been in the game long enough to get much experience. They’ve only leveled up a few times, and it shows in their general skill set and knowledge (or lack thereof).
Once you reach level 40, you’re a real pro. Level 60 and above? You’re a legend.
The only downside to leveling up is that the game levels up, too. It gets harder. And when something hurts, it tends to hurt more.
Maybe that’s why we’re seeing such a pronounced increase in cannabis consumption among adults age 65 and older. Cannabis benefits for the elderly can be life-changing, and range from the physical to the mental to the fiscal.
Here are eight incredible ways cannabis can support better health and happiness in mature adults and the elderly.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is provided to raise awareness of current cannabis studies. None of the information in this article is intended as medical advice and should not be used as such.
1) Chronic & General Pain
For many seniors, pain is just a part of aging.
Whether you’re struggling with small aches and pains, nerve damage, joint pain (like arthritis), or pain caused by chronic illness, cannabis can help.
Depending on the source and severity of the pain, you don’t even need to consume cannabis to get the benefits. Topicals (rubs, creams, lotions) that are infused with cannabinoids can be rubbed onto the skin around the area of pain to offer localized relief.
Cannabis has also been shown to be less addictive—and less dangerous—than many commonly prescribed opioids. The body is full of cannabinoid receptors, and marijuana interacts with these receptors to deliver natural pain relief.
According to Time.com, doctors in states with legal cannabis prescribed an average of 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers every year.
While cannabis can offer a convenient, healthier, and less addictive alternative to many commonly prescribed pain medications, you should NOT stop taking prescribed medication (or reduce dosage) unless recommended by your doctor or primary care physician.
2) Mental Health
Anxiety, addiction and other mental health concerns are common across age groups. And while cannabis may increase anxiety in some users (and when smoking certain strains), it has also been shown to be an effective treatment method.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the two primary cannabinoids found in recreational and medical marijuana, and studies support its use as an effective treatment for:
Generalized anxiety disorder
Social anxiety disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Medical marijuana is also less addictive than many other anti-anxiety medications, and may actually help counteract addiction to other prescribed drugs.
3) Alzheimer’s Disease
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease can be debilitating—the degenerative brain disease not only affects cognition and memory, but can also cause depression and loss of appetite.
In terms of quality of life, medical marijuana is often used as an alternative treatment for depression and eating disorders.
Perhaps more exciting for Alzheimer’s patients and researchers, THC has been linked to a slowdown in the buildup of beta-amyloids, bundles of protein that build up in the brain (and one of the leading signs of Alzheimer’s).
Photo by Eddy Klaus on Unsplash
Medical marijuana is frequently prescribed to help cancer patients, particularly when they are going through chemotherapy.
Studies have shown that more than 60% of cancer patients in palliative care suffer nausea and vomiting—two conditions that can be treated with cannabis.
Other studies have linked cannabis to neuropathic pain relief—pain caused by damaged nerves—which can reduce the need for other pain medication in some instances.
More obviously, cannabis has been shown to increase appetite in individuals who may struggle to eat enough while undergoing treatment.
5) Eating Disorders
You might think eating disorders are something only young people need to worry about. But did you know that 80% of deaths caused by anorexia occur among the elderly?
One of the reasons people suffer from eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia is due to an underactive or impaired endocannabinoid system. This can cause the brain to view food as undesirable, a condition that can present increased health risks among the elderly and those suffering other chronic illnesses. Marijuana use has been shown to help the brain view food as a reward again.
Making marijuana even more appealing, many doctors prescribe it as an alternative to antidepressants and antipsychotics that are commonly used to help stimulate the appetite.
Again, you should speak with your doctor before using marijuana or making any changes to your treatment or dosage.
6) Brain Health
Many people associate cannabis with reduced brain function. But in the elderly, the opposite may be true.
A study out of the University of Bonn in Germany analyzed the impact of THC on brain cognition in mice. In the study, groups of young, mature, and elderly were given small doses of THC. Before consuming the THC, the young group of mice performed significantly higher than the mature and elderly groups in cognition tests. While THC slightly inhibited the performance of the younger mice in cognition tests, it had a surprising effect on the older groups. After taking THC, the mature and elderly generations outperformed the younger mice on learning and memory tests.
While this may not translate directly to humans, the findings show the potential cognitive benefits of marijuana consumption in the elderly.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in individuals over the age of 60. As fluid builds up in the eye, it increases pressure, which can affect eyesight.
Marijuana has been shown to reduce pressure for hours at a stretch, an important step in treating the condition. It’s also more cost-effective than traditional glaucoma eye-drops.
8) Less Expensive Than Other Medications
Speaking of cost-effectiveness, one of the biggest benefits that consumers report in using cannabis to treat various conditions is the cost savings. That may seem like a small factor after considering the myriad ways marijuana may support better health, but it can be especially important for those patients who are trying to treat illness or pain while still saving for retirement (or keeping their savings intact).
As we’ve noted several times in this article, you should speak with your doctor before attempting to use marijuana for any sort of medical treatment (or supplemental treatment).
Weed Benefits The Elderly
A Natural Path to Better Well-Being As You Age
How has cannabis benefited your life as a mature adult? Let us know in the comments below.
And whether you’re smoking recreationally or to treat a specific condition (after speaking with your doctor), stop by Karing Kind in North Boulder for top-shelf flower, CO2 extracted concentrates, premier topicals, and some of the highest-rated edibles in Colorado.
Karing Kind is located just off of US-36, one mile north of Broadway, open MON-SUN from 9am to 10pm.
While we carry a variety of strains, concentrates, edibles, salves and tinctures, inventory and stock levels fluctuate from week to week and month to month. Check our menu and follow us on Twitter for an up-to-date list of edibles, concentrates and buds available.