The Hazards of Alcoholism in the Elderly
Millions of people consume alcohol, but each person has their own unique relationship with this substance. While many are able to drink in moderation without it negatively impacting their health, relationships and careers, alcohol use can become problematic for some individuals. Alcohol has a particularly strong impact on older adults, even when consumed infrequently.
Age-related changes in the body, chronic health conditions, prescription medications and other factors can magnify the effects of alcohol consumption and jeopardize a senior’s health. This can cause an older adult’s relationship with alcohol to change even though they may not have altered their drinking habits. Unhealthy drinking patterns like binge drinking and heavy alcohol use are associated with serious health risks, especially for the elderly.
Alcoholism in seniors is commonly overlooked or misdiagnosed by healthcare providers. Therefore, it is crucial for family caregivers to be aware of the signs of alcohol abuse in older adults. While dealing with an elderly alcoholic parent can be extremely challenging, it is important to understand that treatment programs can be successful.
My Experience Caring for an Elderly Alcoholic: My neighbor Joe was rarely without a hip flask during Prohibition. While this accessory eventually went out of vogue, he didn’t change his drinking habits as he aged. Joe was a functioning alcoholic; he and everyone who knew him were well aware of that fact. But Joe was also a brilliant, inventive, and funny man. By the time I had started caring for him, he was 87 years old…
Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories. “For anyone having to walk the last segments of life with a loved one, read this.” …Delores
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