The Woodstock care home in the Hague has recently made headlines for housing residents that are chemically dependent and have been termed “long term addicted with untreatable addiction”.  One of the goals of the facility is to alleviate homelessness in the elderly, as well as to promote social order and safety. The facility is managed under the direction of the municipal government as well as local health care manager Parnassia. The facility uses multiple parameters as admission criteria, and provides treatment for multiple co-morbidities. While residents must enter a behavioral agreement to ensure safety, they are permitted to continue to consume chemical substances in the program. “Our criteria state you can only get into Woodstock if you’re over 45 and after a medical examination declares you are beyond rehabilitation,” said psychiatrist Nils Hollenborg. (For beautifully haunting photos of residents, see these photos from Peter Van Beek). Municipal authorities argue that providing stability for this population helps reduce petty theft.

While “hard” drugs may not be on the menu, chemical dependency may be an emerging issue in elder care. The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a report in 2009 that documented an increase in drug use among persons ages 50 – 64. As the “baby boomers” age, it is probable that elderly service providers will have to confront the issue of substance abuse among elders, as people who have consumed cannabis across their lifespan need services and supports. Complicating the issue from a provider policy standpoint, some states in the U.S. now allow for medical use of cannabis. Therefore, homes and care providers in California or Colorado might legally allow residents to consume cannabis while in their care. Such a home would be in compliance with state law but in violation of federal law. Residents of an advanced age may feel that rehabilitation in no longer a viable option and may prefer to continue their consumption. What do you think? Will “baby boomers” demand acceptance of chemical dependence as they age? What impact do you see this having on the aged care industry?


Woodstock Residence- Photo Courtesy Parnassia