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Opioids & Older Adults


In collaboration with the Monroe County Department of Public Health and Lifespan, the Finger Lakes Geriatric Education Center (FLGEC) at the University of Rochester is directly addressing the opioid epidemic for older adults and what it means for their families.  This call to action was made possible through supplemental funding received from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). This funding opportunity will allow the FLGEC to:

  • Prepare health care professionals through regional health professionals workshops on opioid training that addresses prevention, assessment, management, and treatment in older adults
  • Develop outreach programs focused on opioid education for older adults and caregivers at Lifespan and at Senior Centers in Rochester, New York
  • Work in tandem with the Opioid Action Plan of Monroe County to coordinate regional data collection on opioid abuse in older adults, and provide education and overdose prevention efforts.


  • HHS Guide for Clinicians on the Appropriate Dosage Reduction or Discontinuation of Long-Term Opioid Analgesics - In response to concerns that patients are being abruptly cut off of prescription opioids, the US DHHS announced this new guide yesterday. In light of the opioid crisis, providers have been responding to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to limit opioid prescribing, but rapid discontinuation can lead to opioid withdrawal and other problems for patients. The new guide seeks to balance effective pain management with risks of opioid addiction.
  • The Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) Program at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has posted the protocol for Prevention, Diagnosis, and Management of Opioids, Opioid Misuse and Opioid Use Disorder in Older Adults. The protocol is available at the Effective Healthcare Web site or here as a pdf.
  • Managing Opioid Use in Long Term Services and Supports - created by the Utah Geriatric Education Consortium, these interprofessional online modules for students, health care providers and LTSS staff are centered around opioid use.  Each module takes about 20 minutes to complete and provides instruction on how to present the material to a group.

2020 Opioids and Older Adults Webinar Series

The FLGEC partnered with the Western New York Rural Area Health Education Center (WNY R-AHEC) to host a series of online education sessions in early 2020.  These webinar recordings can be accessed here:

An Overview of Addiction from a Medical Perspective

  • Presenter: Gregory Collins, DO, MPH, Commissioner of Public Health, Wyoming County, New York
  • Date Recorded: Tuesday, January 28, 2020
  • The presentation discusses the history of addiction, the current opioid crisis, the Why? we become addicted from a biologic, psychologic and social perspective and current options for treatment.

Wisdom Keepers and Opioid Use – Influence of Stigma, Shame, Loneliness

  • Presenter: Ednita M. Wright, PhD, LCSW, CASAC, Associate Professor, Department of Human Services, SUNY Onondaga Community College
  • Date Recorded: Wednesday, February 26, 2020
  • Participants will receive an overview of opioid use among Wisdom Keepers (Older Adults); reasons for abuse; the power of the use stigmatizing language, the reason that language matters; how loneliness and shame increase the use of opioids among Wisdom Keepers; and effective ways to reduce the stigma that Wisdom Keepers face which keep them from the support they need and deserve.

Biopsychosocial Approach to Pain in Older Adults

  • Presenter: Paul Dougherty, DC, Adjunct Professor, New York Chiropractic College; Canandaigua VAMC
  • Date Recorded: Tuesday, March 10, 2020
  • This presentation will review the biopsychosocial model and how this approach is effective in addressing pain as well as the unique psychological and social comorbidities in an older population.


This project is sponsored by the Finger Lakes Geriatric Education Center funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) under the Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program # U1QHP28738.  This information or content and conclusions are those of the authors/speakers and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, DHHS, or the U.S. Government.