A mere couple of blogs ago, I shared my concern, based on excellent McKnight’s reportage, that seniors are becoming just as addicted to their devices as young people. That seemed shocking, given our long-entrenched perceptions of older folks as technology averse. 

Little did I expect to already be proven wrong. 

So let me be clear: Newer research now confirms that seniors are not, I repeat, are not becoming just as addicted — they’re actually becoming more addicted, and faster. McKnight’s reports that their smartphone dependence is rising far more quickly than for younger age groups. 

We talked about how that could lead to more sedentary lifestyles and poor sleep quality, besides creating possible regulatory headaches in long-term care as providers are forced to take on a more parental role in monitoring screen time. 

But fortunately, there’s ample reason to be optimistic that smartphone addiction in the senior population could soon be replaced with … another addiction. 


Back in 2020, McKnight’s reported that cannabis use by older Americans had increased 75%, and now, according to a federal survey on drug use, they’re the fastest growing clientele

Mostly, seniors appear to be using it for pain relief and sleep, rather than for getting high and playing “Dark Side of the Moon” while watching the Wizard of Oz. But still, it’s a seismic societal shift, driven largely by Boomers who grew up in a time of greater drug experimentation.

Though members of the silent generation, like my parents were, have been slower to dabble in legalized weed, many are surprisingly open to it. My dad was a pastor in a conservative Protestant church that strongly discouraged the use of caffeine, meat, bowling and rock music. But toward the end of his life even he talked about giving this formerly illicit substance a try for arthritis pain.

For battling the scourge of screen dependence in long-term care facilities, this is all very exciting news. Because if you’ve ever tried to navigate your smartphone after eating a couple weed gummies, you know how challenging it can be. 

So if the trend continues and your residents fully embrace the use of the growing array of marijuana products, they’ll get quickly distracted and frustrated by the technology, and hopefully you won’t have to worry so much about taking their screens away. 

But you may need to stock more snacks, and make room for cannabis on the med cart. 

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a two-time national Silver Medalist and three-time regional Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program, as well as an Award of Excellence honoree in the APEX Awards. He’s been amusing, inspiring, informing and sometimes befuddling long-term care readers worldwide since the end of a previous century. He is a writer and video producer for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.

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