Why More Seniors Are Using Cannabis to Sleep

Elderly man sitting on bed looking serious – Indoors

More Seniors Are Using Cannabis because My dad spent the last two years of his life in a skilled nursing facility. He’d complain about the nightly noise—the screams, shrieks and cries of dementia patients—that made sleeping difficult. I made hashish biscuits and offered them to my elderly father around dinnertime. The next day I asked how he slept. ‘Gooooood,’ he said.

My dad liked biscuits. I like cannabis. One day I made hashish biscuits and delivered them to my dad around dinner time. I returned the next day and asked my dad how he slept.

“I slept goooooooood,” he said.

I told my dad I’d dosed him. An old Mexican who sold opium to village elders as a boy, he knew the curative powers as well as the political and cultural propaganda surrounding marijuana. But he asked me not to make these biscuits again, fearing he’d be kicked out of the home if the administration found out. He returned to sleepless nights.RELATED STORYHow Does Cannabis Consumption Affect Insomnia?

A Real Alternative for Seniors

Insomnia is a nagging affliction for many people who suffer conditions such as anxiety, chronic pain, PTSD, depression and restless leg syndrome. Cannabis, according to doctors, nurses and caregivers who work with seniors, is an effective treatment for elderly people and others who suffer from insomnia.

In this week’s episode of “Eyes Wide Open,” the Zana/Leafly podcast about cannabis and insomnia, hosts Jeremy Kossen and Seth Lorinczi explore many issues specific to seniors and insomnia. You can hear the full episode here:

As part of our focus on seniors and insomnia this week, we sought out stories and perspectives from four people in the San Francisco Bay Area—a dispensary owner, a nurse, a doctor and a retired political aide—who use and endorse cannabis to treat insomnia.

Seniors Rarely Sleep Through the Night

Sue Taylor is a former Catholic school principal turned expert on senior citizens and cannabis. Licensed by the state of California to educate doctors and nurses on the use of cannabis as medicine, she also serves as a county commissioner on aging. Taylor is working to open a cannabis dispensary in Berkeley this summer aimed at specifically serving senior citizens.

In a recent interview with Leafly, Taylor said insomnia is a common ailment among the seniors she meets at the educational events she conducts at senior communities and care facilities.

why More Seniors Are Using Cannabis
Sue Taylor: Cannabis is a healthier way.

“You rarely find a senior who can sleep through the night, including myself,” said Taylor, 69. “It’s a major concern. A lot of seniors use alcohol to put them to sleep. We’ve got to get the word out that there are healthier ways to help them sleep.”

Taylor didn’t use cannabis until she started working with seniors as an outreach coordinator at pioneering Oakland medical cannabis dispensary Harborside Health Center seven years ago. Nowadays she uses small doses of a tincture that’s high in CBD, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, and low in THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. It’s a 30:1 ratio of CBD to THC.

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