Dorothy, we're not in Florida any more
Jacqueline Vance, RN
Ah, Florida: Home of the Sunshine State, early bird dinners, affordable retirement living — and flocks of retirees. Seniors traditionally create a checklist for considering places to retire. They look at things like warm climates, affordability, amenities, places the grandkids would want to visit, and access to healthcare. (Florida? check. Arizona? check)
But wait. Florida and Arizona, and other similars, might no longer be the prize places retirees wish to spend their golden years. And the reason might surprise you.
It seems that aging baby boomers are often looking to retire in states where marijuana is legal. Forget about the image you may have of the apathetic pot smoking teenager and instead think well-dressed grandparent toking while sipping on a cup of green tea. (“I'm a joker, an old-folker, and a midnight toker ...” ?! — Sorry, Steve Miller Band!)
So these aging boomers are now swarming to unlikely places such as Oregon and Colorado (yep, not so warm) where they can move to retirement communities and easily purchase marijuana without a prescription to deal with common ailments of old age such as pain, loss of appetite and insomnia.
As a matter of fact, Oregon dispensaries state that over 50% of their clientele are made up of elderly folks looking for relief. In Colorado, many dispensaries say they have seen the largest portion of sales going to people of retirement age. Data from United Van Lines showed the top U.S. moving destination in 2014 was Oregon, where marijuana was legalized for recreational use. In 2012, the Mountain West region, which includes Colorado, had the highest percentage of people moving to retire there.
This makes one wonder: If retirees are beginning to factor in the legalization of marijuana when choosing where to spend their golden years, will this push states like Florida, where there are large elderly populations, to legalize marijuana?
I have no idea how this will translate to the nursing home community, where we know we have a whole bucket of regulations that differ from others'.
But we might see fewer citations under tag F325 — re: weight loss — if states that have legalized medical use start to see residents start to actually gain weight as a result of "stimulated" appetites!
I guess we will just have to wait and see. It will be interesting to learn where this goes, no matter which side of a joint you stand on.
Just keeping it real,
The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.