When you think about the risks that increase with aging, you probably think of dementia, cancer, diabetes, and other health issues. As a trusted Bay Area in home caregiving agency, it may surprise you to learn there is another growing risk among seniors – alcohol abuse. According to a 10-year study among older Americans, it seems that “high risk drinking” has increased by 65% in aging adults! High risk is defined as consuming four or more drinks per day over a weekly basis among women, or five or more drinks per day weekly among men.
Why are more seniors abusing alcohol? There are several reasons for this increase, including:
- Illness, the death of a spouse, or other traumatic events
- Lack of socialization or boredom following retirement
- Deteriorating health
- Empty nest syndrome
An article in the New York Times also suggests that anxiety induced by the 2007-2008 recession during the time period of surveys could also be a factor in alcohol abuse.
How can you recognize whether an aging loved one may be abusing alcohol? Here are common signs according to the Alcohol Rehab Guide:
- Drinking alcohol as a way to cope with loss or depression
- Becoming easily irritated or agitated when sober
- Not being truthful about the amount of alcohol consumed
- Trying to hide liquor bottles so they’re not easily seen/found
- Drinking alcohol while taking OTC or prescription medications
- Odor of alcohol on the breath, slurred speech, or other symptoms that indicate alcohol consumption
Unfortunately, abusing alcohol contributes to even more health issues and increases existing risks. Older individuals’ bodies handle alcohol differently; for instance, alcohol is metabolized more slowly in the liver than in those who are younger. Additionally, alcohol contributes to the progression of chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. As our brains age, alcohol becomes even more sedating, which can contribute to trips, falls, and other accidents – particularly when combined with medications seniors often take.
Whether you suspect your aging loved one is abusing alcohol, or you have no doubt, the most important thing you can do is seek treatment in a geriatric substance abuse recovery program. Alcohol abuse is serious for anyone of any age, but aging seniors are especially at risk.
Need help caring for an elderly loved one in San Jose, Palo Alto or anywhere in the Bay Area? At Care Indeed we provide healthcare staffing, hospital sitting, hourly and live-in care, and much more. We help aging seniors remain in their homes and enjoy the assistance they need for a happier, more fulfilled life. Contact us today for all of your senior care needs!