Though new to HC DrugFree and the 50 PLUS EXPO, I quickly saw the value of our presence at the expo this year. I wondered if many seniors would even bother to stop at the HC DrugFree booth, or if they would simply ‘compare themselves out’ (that is think, “This doesn’t apply to me because I don’t have a drug problem & my children are grown.”). But to my delight and surprise, many attendees spent ample time at our booth and found issues of importance to them.
We discussed the need to lock up medications (especially prescription pain medications), to help reduce the opportunity and availability of these drugs to anyone other than their intended patient. Even if the senior wasn’t on any prescription meds (and we met several…yeah!), they were concerned about the issue and glad to hear of HC DrugFree’s focus.
Our semi-annual Drug Take Back Days were another frequent topic, as seniors either learned about it for the first time, or shared that they just participated in our October 22nd event. Many attendees thanked us for the medicine lock boxes they received at our April 30th Drug Take Back Day, which they appreciate and use regularly. We encouraged everyone to start collecting items for our spring event, date to be determined by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Given that the purpose of HC DrugFree is education and prevention of substance misuse and abuse, what better way to ‘spread the word’ than to include and recruit the seniors in our community to understand the facts of clean and sober living and HC DrugFree’s mission and goals?! The stereotype of an isolated senior, alone in their apartment, might be the reality for some citizens in Howard County, but my guess is that many of our seniors are living active, vibrant lives, filled with a lifetime of connections and opportunities to influence others.
I am grateful for the opportunity we had during the 50+ EXPO to engage with this wise, concerned abd interactive segment of our community. They can be an invaluable resource as HC DrugFree continues its mission.
Last thought: One veteran of the EXPO looked around at the milling crowd, most of whom carried shopping bags filled with literature and items from each booth, and referred to it as, “Trick-or-Treating for Seniors!”. Maybe we can follow his example and look for the humor and joy of every day, no matter what obstacles we might face. I’ll wager he learned that from a lifetime of practice.