Recent studies have revealed that one demographic group is consuming alcohol at an alarming rate – baby boomers. Considering the increase in reliance on alcohol among those age 54 to 72, this is a troubling topic on its own. Add to this the fact that about 40% of older adults use four or more medications, and this compounds the issue. Impaired driving among the elderly is certainly an important issue that needs to be addressed.
From prescription pain medications to heart medications, anxiety medicines and those for arthritis, diabetes and other conditions, it isn’t unusual for seniors who either take several medications or consume alcohol (or both) to get behind the wheel. Those who are elderly do not want to give up their driving rights, and many believe they’re perfectly capable of driving when in fact they shouldn’t be behind the wheel at all.
People react differently to the effects of alcohol regardless of age. However, the ability for the body to break down alcohol decreases as we age, meaning alcohol stays in the system longer in those who are older. Mixing medications, whether prescription or over-the counter, with alcohol is never a good idea and an even worse idea when someone intends to drive.
Older drivers and “prescription cocktails” are becoming more and more common. This not only puts older drivers at risk, but other motorists and people who may be walking, riding a bike or even waiting on a bus as well.
What can you do as a family caregiver? Talk to your aging parent or loved one about the dangers and risks, about perhaps seeking help if he or she has a drinking problem, and about scheduling an appointment with the doctor to discuss potential drug interactions and if any medications should be changed. This is especially important when a new drug is added.
At Care Indeed our Bay Area in-home caregivers understand the unique issues many seniors face today. For exceptional care, compassion and help when you need it from trained caregivers, give us a call today.