Alcohol Abuse and the Elderly

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Alcoholism is much more prevalent among the aging and adult population than many people realize. In fact, Scottsdale Home Care specialists estimate that nearly 12% of elderly individuals suffer from this disease, and the number is expected to grow as the aging population becomes larger. While alcoholism is a difficult condition to deal with, there are additional factors that can make it even more complicated for the elderly.

When family members do not provide live-in home care in Scottsdale, it becomes difficult to identify or realize that their aging parent or loved one has a substance problem. In the generation that our elders grew up in, alcoholism also carried a huge stigma, which leads many to keep their problem a secret. To make matters worse, the warning signs of alcoholism– mental impairment, slurred speech, unsteady gait, frequent falls and forgetfulness – can all be wrongly attributed to the natural aging process, leaving the true problem unidentified.

Even if a senior does drink openly, a family member may not be aware of the extent to which their loved one is drinking, especially if he or she lives alone. Generally, seniors in the low-risk group for alcoholism have no more than 7 drinks in a week, with no more than 3 of those on the same day. However, low-risk does not mean no-risk and each situation will be dependent on other individualized circumstances such as age and current and past health conditions. Another complication for alcohol abuse among the elderly is that many of seniors are on multiple medications and some of those prescriptions make any alcohol dangerous.

If you know or suspect that your loved one is struggling with alcoholism, talk to other members of your family and also to your loved one as well. Alcoholics will often be in denial about their condition, but some are willing to seek treatment if help is offered. Consult with your family physician to determine what course of treatment, such as detoxification in a rehab treatment facility, would be best. Because emotional problems like depression frequently co-exist with alcohol abuse, counseling can also help during this difficult time.

The best thing you can do, however, is to show your support. Be there for your loved one with a listening ear and let them know that you are there for them so that they will not have to fight this disease alone.


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