,

Elderly Alcoholism: Seldom Discussed but a Growing Problem

a senior man drinking from a whisky bottleAlcohol abuse in the elderly is a common problem and most times go untreated.

More often than not as a person ages they have an increasing amount of depression.

Alcoholism among the elderly is more hidden than in any other age group because of the social isolation, loneliness and depression that often accompanies the aging process. Between 4 – 6 percent of people 65 and older suffer from alcoholism and other drug abuse. The aging process creates an elderly alcoholic and they turn to the drink as a form of self-medication.

“Many elderly people use drink as self-medication for depression and loneliness,” said Dr. Michael L. Freedman of the New York University Medical Center. ”Alcohol is one of the few substances one can buy for this without a prescription. Of course, it does provide some initial relief – but in the long term, alcoholism makes you more depressed.”

Alcoholism in the elderly is only now gaining attention because of the change in society. Many older people grew up in a society where drinking was not only socially acceptable but expected among certain social groups. In many family environments, alcoholism has a negative social stigma so it went untreated. This tendency is especially true when dealing with elderly women who are alcoholics. Today, people are more open about alcohol abuse and treatment programs. Many elderly people who grew up as alcoholics and were considered “functioning alcoholics” have family members that are staging interventions.

Elderly Alcohol Abuse Treatment

“The treatment of alcoholism in the elderly is more successful than at other stages of the life cycle,” said Dr. Dan G. Blazer, an expert on patterns of alcohol abuse who teaches at the Duke University Medical School.

“Older people can more easily see the impact of alcohol on their health,” he explained. “And the families of many older persons often rally to get them into a treatment program.”
But he added, “The alcoholics who have no families and the skid-row alcoholics are tough to treat because they have no motivation.”

“Elderly people tend not to be excited about A.A.” Dr. Blazer added. “In some A.A. groups, elderly people may feel a bit uncomfortable and out of place.”

Doctors and family members may be reluctant to confront an elderly person about their excessive drinking because it is a sensitive issue but the results of inaction are life threatening. There are now specific programs designed for an elderly alcoholic that treats both the long-term alcoholic and also an elderly person that develops alcoholism due to their environment.

 

for families looking for elderly senior home care
Click here to start the Alvita Care Needs Assessment Quiz

 

About AlvitaCare

Alvita Care is a fully licensed home healthcare company providing premier in home caregiver services to seniors living in New York City and on Long Island NY. With offices in Midtown Manhattan and Hauppauge NY, Alvita Care was founded in 2008 upon the idea of "Care Without Compromise". Our care-giving services enhance seniors' lives, by improving their well-being, dignity and independence. We have earned The Joint Commissions Gold Seal of Approval and pride ourselves with our proprietary caregiver matching process that carefully matches our experience caregivers to each client based on personality and technical skills needed. Alvita Care can help whether you need assistance for several hours a few times a week or you require live-in or around-the-clock assistance. Our caregivers provide assurance and relief to families by relieving their anxiety, knowing that their loved one is safe, happy and lovingly cared for.