Cannabis Use Among Older Adults

In primary care, questions are frequently raised about cannabis use for older adults as a treatment option for various conditions. Discover the variety of resources below to learn more about cannabis use in older adults. 

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Key Facts

Evidence is limited with regard to the potential benefits and harms of cannabis use, especially among older adults who often face unique physical and socioeconomic circumstances that may influence their response to cannabis. Physiological changes that impact sleep, mobility, diet, exercise, and overall quality of life, along with issues such as polypharmacy and cognitive decline are all confounding factors in the effects and response of cannabis use in this population.

Older adults, have a higher lifetime prevalence of use and past year use of cannabis than any generation that precedes them (Simoni-Wastila & Yang, 2006). This increased lifetime exposure, coupled with the recent legalization of non-medical cannabis use in Canada and subsequent increase in public interest, has driven the need for health care professionals to be aware of the most recent research on the use of cannabis for medical and non-medical purposes.

Clinical Guidelines

The goal of our clinical guidelines is to provide guidance to clinicians on preventing the development of Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) and optimally assessing and treating older adults who have developed such a disorder.

In 2017, the CCSMH was awarded funding by Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program, to develop four sets of clinical guidelines on the prevention, screening, assessment, and treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder, Benzodiazepine Receptor Agonist Use Disorder, Cannabis Use Disorder and Opioid Use Disorder in older adults.

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Cannabis and Older Adults Asynchronous eLearning

Also available in French

11 individually accredited modules (MOC and MainPro+). No cost to learners. For physicians, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, nurses, other health care professionals and health care students.

About The Project

Thank you for your interest in the Cannabis and Older Adults eLearning Modules, developed by the Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health in partnership with Baycrest.

CCSMH received muti-year funding from Health Canada to develop MOC and MainPro+ accredited evidence-based e-learning modules and knowledge translation tools for physicians, other health providers and healthcare students. The goal of the project was to help increase clinician knowledge and skills regarding cannabis and older adults. The Scientific Planning Committee, comprised of academics and physicians from across Canada, developed the e-learning module content based on key principles of adult learning and collaborative instructional design with the support of an e-learning specialist. The modules are free and asynchronous, and participants can choose which modules they wish to take.

We began the process with a review of the scientific literature and a needs assessment survey so the information needs of the target audiences could be incorporated into the education content.  Over 1500 individuals across Canada responded to the survey including 195 Physicians, 43 Nurse Practitioners, over 500 other healthcare providers and 686 older adults. Some highlights of the survey include:

  • 89% of physicians and nurse practitioners reported they are aware of older adults in their practice using cannabis but only 39% felt that they had sufficient knowledge to address older patients and their caregivers’ questions about cannabis
  • 41% of older adults responded that their healthcare provider was not able to answer their questions on cannabis
  • Anxiety, pain and insomnia are the most common reasons that older adults reported using cannabis

The modules are each 30-45 minutes in length and available in English and French. Topics include the evidence for cannabis and older adults, adverse effects, dosing and how to communicate with patients. A Clinician Toolkit has also been developed, in addition to Info Sheets for older adults.

Examples of clinician topics include:

  • Assessing Appropriateness of Cannabis Use for Older Adults
  • Optimizing Communication with Older Adults About Cannabis
  • Monitoring for Potential Adverse Effects of Cannabis Among Older Adults

In partnership with

Funding for this Project was provided by Health Canada (Substance Use and Addictions Program).

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY

Testimonials

Welcome from CCSMH Co-Chairs

In primary care, questions are frequently raised about cannabis use for older adults as a treatment option for various conditions. The e-learning modules on 'Cannabis use in Older Adults' are extremely useful for all clinicians to increase their level of knowledge and confidence about clinically relevant aspects of cannabis. Providers will be more comfortable answering questions about cannabis with their older patients. I highly recommend the modules to all clinicians to help them better manage their older adult patients with complex clinical needs.

Kiran Rabheru MD, CCFP, FRCP, DABPN
Co-Chair CCSMH 
Geriatric Psychiatrist, The Ottawa Hospital
Professor of Psychiatry, University of Ottawa

Cannabis consumption among older adults has been accelerating at a much faster pace than other age groups. Healthcare providers have also reported a gap in knowledge which is why CCSMH has developed the Cannabis and Older Adults e-Learning modules to aid physicians, nurse practitioners, other healthcare providers and healthcare students increase their knowledge and confidence in discussing cannabis with their older patients. The modules are asynchronous and individually accredited, allowing the learner to complete them when convenient and to choose the content that is relevant to their needs.

David Conn, MB, FRCPC
Co-Chair CCSMH,
Vice-President of Education, Baycrest
Professor, Dept of Psychiatry, University of Toronto

Watch the following eLearning Overview presented by Dr. David Conn

Invitation to health care students to register for eLearning by Victoria Grandi, MD Candidate (2024)

CLICK HER TO REGISTER TODAY

Module Topics

Module topics

  Module Title Credits / Hours
1. The reality of cannabis use in older adults 0.5
2a. The history of cannabis and the current status of Canadian cannabis legalization and policies 0.5
2b. Regulations, provincial/territorial guidelines and medico-legal considerations for clinicians 0.5
3. Cannabis and cannabinoid neuropharmacology and drug interactions 0.75
4. Cannabis plant science, cannabinoids, and difficulties in cannabis research 0.5
5. Evidence for Cannabis as Treatment 0.5
6. Pharmaceutical cannabinoids, modes of cannabis use, dosing and accessing cannabis 1.0
7a. Adverse effects and special considerations for safety 0.5
7b. Safer cannabis use, harm reduction and cannabis use disorder 0.5
8. Collaborative, patient-centered care and communication strategies 0.75
9. Developing a treatment plan and case studies 0.75

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY

Accreditation Information

Overview of the eLearning Modules

CCSMH has convened a Scientific Planning Committee to oversee the development of e-learning modules targeting physicians, nurse practitioners, other health care professionals and health care students.

This event is an Accredited Self-Assessment Program (Section 3) as defined by the Maintenance of Certification Program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and approved by the University of Ottawa’s Office of Continuing Professional Development. You may claim a maximum of 6.75 hours (credits are automatically calculated).

This one-credit-per-hour Group Learning program meets the certification criteria of the College of Family Physicians of Canada and has been certified by the University of Ottawa’s Office of Continuing Professional Development for up to 6.75 Mainpro+ credits.

For technical questions please email eLearning@baycrest.org.

For questions regarding content of the modules, please contact the Canadian Coalition for Seniors' Mental Health at: info@ccsmh.ca

In partnership with

Funding for this Project was provided by Health Canada (Substance Use and Addictions Program).

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY

Registration Information

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY

This series of 11 individually accredited modules (MOC and Main Pro+) can be accessed through Baycrest’s Learning Management System. To create an account and register for the English modules, please carefully read the instructions below and then press the "Register Here" button.

For technical questions please email eLearning@baycrest.org, the team will endeavor to respond to you within 1-2 business days.

For questions regarding content of the modules, please contact the Canadian Coalition for Seniors' Mental Health at: info@ccsmh.ca

Help us improve our resources: 

CCSMH aims to promote older adults’ mental health by connecting people, ideas and resources. Please take a few moments to tell us about yourself and your experience with our resources by participating in this survey.

Resources

CCSMH has developed several resources on the topic of Cannabis and Older Adults

Resources for Health Care Professionals

Cover of the Canadian Guidelines on Prevention, Assessment and Treatment of Depression Among Older Adults booklet

Canadian Guidelines on Prevention, Assessment and Treatment of Depression Among Older Adults

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CCSMH Webinar: Canadian Guidelines on Cannabis Use Disorder Among Older Adults

Learn about CCSMH’s Guidelines on Cannabis Use Disorder Among Older Adults on detailing the evidence and best practice recommendations for the prevention, assessment and treatment of cannabis use disorder among older adults.

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Learning Objectives

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Needs Assessment Highlights

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References for eLearning modules

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Provincial and Territorial Regulations/Guidelines/Standards (Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, and Nurses)

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Infographic viii – Modes of Cannabis Use

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Infographic vii – Cannabis Dosing

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Infographic vi – Accessing Cannabis for Medical Purposes

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Infographic v – Evidence for Cannabis as Treatment

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Infographic iv – Clinician Strategies for Safer Cannabis use among Older Adults

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Infographic iii – Monitoring for Potential Adverse Effects of Cannabis and Older Adults

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Resources for Older Adults and Care Partners