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NJ Recruits NewBridge to Help Curb Opioid Epidemic Among Seniors

Wednesday, February 20, 2019
A senior holding shaking medication into his hand.

A higher percentage of older adults fill opioid prescriptions than other age groups.

The New Jersey Department of Human Services awarded NewBridge Services $75,000 to teach older adults about alternatives to using opioids for pain management. The money is part of $1.4 million in grants announced Feb. 19 to stem the opioid epidemic.

NewBridge Services will conduct free group workshops and one-on-one sessions for Morris County residents age 60 and over. NewBridge expects to reach 500 people over 12 months. Participants will learn about the risks of prescription painkillers and the array of evidence-based pain management options that don’t involve addictive opioids.

“This initiative is a great fit for us,” NewBridge Chief Operating Officer Michelle Borden said.

NewBridge SAIL

NewBridge has been helping seniors maximize their independence since 1987 through NewBridge Senior Assistance for Independent Living (SAIL). NewBridge@Home provides in-home counseling for homebound seniors and respite for caregivers. And NewBridge has a decades-long track record of educating the community about various health and wellness topics.

NewBridge’s goal is to educate 500 seniors, caregivers, and staff from organizations that serve seniors by June 30, 2020, Borden said. The nonprofit will make use of its longstanding partnerships with other senior service providers and Morris County, she noted.

By the numbers

The county has 110,500 residents age 60 and over — 22 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. NewBridge’s clients mirror that statistic. 

A higher percentage of older adults fill opioid prescriptions than other age groups. About 17 percent of opioid overdose deaths in New Jersey in 2017 were people age 55 and over, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

NewBridge will provide group workshops at nutrition and senior centers, senior housing, assisted living residences, churches, libraries, and its service center in Parsippany.

There is growing evidence that exercise, acupuncture, yoga, meditation, physical therapy, biofeedback and chiropractic care can help manage pain, often in combination with medications like acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

NewBridge was one of five nonprofits to receive funding to provide programming on alternatives to opioids for pain management. “These contracts will go a long way in helping us reach the people who need help the most, enabling them to get the type of help they need,” Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services Assistant Commissioner Valerie Mielke said.

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