Drinking In The Background: Senior Citizens and Alcohol Abuse

Posted on: 6 February 2015

Approximately 40% of Americans over the age of 65 drink alcohol. A large number of these senior citizens have alcohol problems, but so many of them go undiagnosed. When senior citizens combine alcohol problems with prescription medications and existing medical conditions, the results can be deadly. Here is a look at senior citizen drinking and why older Americans slip through the cracks, especially if they live at home and receive in-home nursing services.

What are Alcohol Problems?

Psychologists and physicians have various terms of art that they use to identify levels of alcohol dependence and abuse, such as "alcoholism," "binge drinking," and "alcohol use disorder." A doctor will assess the number of drinks that a patient consumes and the frequency of these drinks to determine a person's relationship with alcohol. A doctor will also assess the impact that alcohol has on the patient's life, and the level that it interferes.

Do Senior Citizens Have Alcohol Problems?

When you think of heavy and binge drinking, you probably think of college kids, jock athletes, frat parties, and all-night clubbers. Yet, people over 65 report binge and heavy drinking as well--and run circles around their younger boozers.

Compared to those aged 18-34, who report binge drinking about four times a month, those over 65 reported drinking five or six times a month. Many senior citizens, especially those that still live at home and receive at-home nursing care, are lonely and bored; the emotional and physical tolls of growing older place senior citizens at risk for turning to alcohol for relief.

Why are Senior Citizens Under-diagnosed?

Despite heavy levels of drinking, these older adults are less likely to be diagnosed with alcohol-related problems. Nurses and at-home caretakers are trained to recognize and assist older Americans with their alcohol problems, but a large number of these people fall between the cracks.

Adults over the age of 65 are less likely to drive, work, take care of children, and take on similar responsibilities that are easily impacted by alcohol abuse. Older Americans who receive at-home health care services have health conditions that prevent them from performing day-to-day activities, like cooking or bathing, so nurses and loved ones often assume that symptoms actually caused by alcohol problems are caused instead by the elderly person's health condition. Plus, at-home healthcare nurses may only spend a few hours a day or week at a senior citizen's house, so unless the nurse is screening for alcohol-related problems, the symptoms will not always be evident. Talk to people like ComForcare Home Care - Slidell, LA for more information.


Welcome to Sara's Site

Hi there! My name is Sara Jerba. I'm no doctor, but I'm very familiar with them due to experience. You could say I was a sickly child. Between various allergies and a few other conditions, I got to be very good friends with my doctors and nurses. Although I hate staying overnight in the hospital, I do feel quite at home there. Now, don't feel sorry for me. Most of my conditions have eased or even abated entirely as I've grown up. And none of them were ever life-threatening--just inconvenient. It's actually been very positive in the long run; it's brought a lot of wonderful people and important knowledge into my life that I wouldn't have had otherwise.

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