Elderly Drinkers Pose a Risk to Themselves, Yet Often Misdiagnosed

Posted on March 8th, 2011
Posted in Alcohol Abuse

When an adult gets older and enters what is commonly referred to as the “Golden Years”, it should be during this time that there are fewer worries and more time for enjoying life. Is it because of this assumption that those older adults with a drinking problem will fail to seek treatment? Why do family members seem ashamed of the problem and won’t try and confront it?

While this may not be the rule in every family, it is still happening. This concept was recently explored in this Empowher report, calling it the hidden problem of alcoholism and the elderly.

One problem that appears to be growing in the older population is the fact that these individuals will drink unhealthy amounts of alcohol as part of their response process to try and handle stress or depression.

Those elderly individuals who live alone are more prone to alcohol abuse than women. Statistics also show that those with higher educational statuses have often been associated with excessive alcohol consumption as they age.

The hidden drinking problem among the elderly in this type of addiction is not easily identified with traditional screening. Alcoholism in the elderly is easily mistaken for other conditions that are associated with aging. As a result, it will often go undiagnosed or untreated.

Elderly individuals who happen to be excessive consumers of alcohol are not only a risk to themselves; they also have the potential to create significant financial burdens for Medicare, Medicaid and Veteran pension programs. For these reasons, it is important to develop proper screening tools for this segment of the population.
 

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