Community Blog

Can Medical Marijuana Take the Pain Away From Seniors?

By Doug Feltman

Seniors can suffer from any number of chronic medical conditions that can cause pain or difficulty with movement. Most of the time, they are given one or more prescriptions by their doctors to manage discomfort and other symptoms. These medications can cause problems of their own that may do more harm than good. Many of my Home Helpers clients have chronic pain from Arthritis, after effects of chemotherapy and neuropathic pain and often utilize heavy doses of oxycodone which could be habit forming.  More senior care health providers are turning to medical marijuana (MMJ) as an alternative to traditional pain killers and MMJ is now legalized in New Jersey and New York with a doctor’s prescription.


More About Medical Marijuana

 Caregivers and independent seniors may shy away from MMJ for pain management because of the stigma it carries as a street drug. With over half of the states legalizing some form of MMJ, that shame is losing steam. Marijuana is an herb that grows naturally and has been studied internationally for its medicinal value. The two main strains are indica, which can relieve pain, insomnia, and anxiety, and sativa, which stimulates appetite and increases energy.


How Is MMJ Prescribed?

 While a handful of states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, most of the states where it is legal require a qualifying diagnosis and prescription to obtain it. Seniors may smoke marijuana, or they may prefer to take it in an edible form. MMJ can also be found as a tincture or in an ointment or cream for topical use. Caregivers and seniors may be relieved to know that it is virtually impossible to overdose on medical marijuana in any form.


Conditions That Can Be Treated

 Medical marijuana can be a valuable treatment for senior care because it can control pain and other symptoms for a number of conditions that affect the elderly. Some problems that have been shown to respond to MMJ include:


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Effects from chemotherapy


Marijuana can reduce the spasms that are associated with a number of neurological conditions. THC, a chemical found in marijuana, may delay the development of plaque buildup in the brain. It may also be prescribed for palliative or terminal care to keep seniors calm and comfortable.


Benefits for Pain Relief

 Medical marijuana can be a safer alternative to prescription pain killers and is non-addictive. MMJ typically has fewer side effects than most pain medications. It can decrease inflammation due to arthritis or other conditions. Many of the varieties may even offer pain relief without the “high” associated with marijuana use.

Caregivers may want to check with Home Helpers to determine whether this solution may be appropriate  for pain relief with their loved ones. Home Helpers can provide you or your loved one with guidance about MMJ and other treatments for pain to improve the quality of life for seniors in our care.