Alcohol Abuse in Elderly Has Reached Epidemic Levels

Posted on March 24th, 2012

Most caregivers are not aware of what to look for in the issue of elderly people and alcohol abuse. It is estimated that nearly 10 percent of all Americans abuse it and prevalence is especially strong above the age of 65.

Nearly 2.5 million older Americans or 17 percent may have an alcohol abuse problem. According to a recent blog post, typical alcohol abusers fall into one of two categories. There are those who have abused alcohol for many years prior to reaching 65 and those who become late in life alcoholics.

This last group is often triggered from life changes that include everything from reduced income, retirement, death of a loved one, health concerns and sleep issues. With elderly people, alcohol has an increased absorption rate and so they can become intoxicated much faster than when they were younger.

When you further combine the alcohol with a variety of medications taken, the problems can cause many adverse reactions. Even if the person consumes just a small amount of alcohol the results can impair coordination, judgment and reaction time which increase their risk for accidents at home, work or in the car.

It is important to consult your loved ones doctor and talk about what medications they are on and if they can safely be taken with alcohol. Drinking alcohol can cause some medical conditions to be harder to diagnose and treat for doctors and oftentimes leads to misdiagnosis of Alzheimer’s because of the patient’s confusion and forgetfulness.

Drinking alcohol also causes changes in blood vessels and the heart which can dull pain and hinder the warning signs of heart attacks.

Detecting substance abuse in the elderly can be extremely difficult, especially if they live alone. If you suspect alcohol may be a problem in your loved one, you can contact the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment to find a list of indications for alcohol related issues with the elderly.

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