Senior Living Care Blog

Alcohol Use Disorders In Seniors

Posted by Joe Gilmore on Aug 13, 2019 11:00:00 AM


Alcohol use disorders are somewhat common among adults and older adults. According to Experimental Gerontology, alcohol use disorders affect one to three percent of elderly subjects. Moreover, seniors who aren’t necessarily alcoholics can still deal with alcohol-related issues. In fact, just because someone doesn’t have a alcohol use disorder doesn’t meant hey struggle with alcohol in some way or another. According to the New York Times, ten percent of seniors binge drink.


Unfortunately, alcohol use is can cause a lot of physical and mental health problems as they affect several organs and other parts of the body. These issues can be even more problematic for older adults as the immune system weakens. Learning more about the signs of alcoholism and the effects of alcohol use disorder will help you identify the problems if they begin to pop up in yourself or a loved one.


Alcoholism and Seniors

Two older women sitting outside and drinking wine. Alcohol use in seniors is on the rise

While illicit drug use generally is something that declines as adults move through young adulthood and into a later age. Meanwhile, alcohol use is much more common among older adults. While many seniors continue to drink throughout their lives, the issue only devolves into alcohol use disorder and alcoholism in a few cases.


To be diagnosed with alcohol use disorder, a person would have to qualify for the problem in a few ways. For example, answering “yes” to some of the following questions may be a sign that you have some sort of alcohol use disorder:


  • Have you had times in which you ended up drinking more or longer than intended?
  • Have you more than once tried to cut down or stop drinking but couldn’t?
  • Have you experienced a craving or strong urge to drink?
  • Have you spent a lot of time drinking?


If you would like to see a full list of questions to help determine if you or a loved one has a problem with alcohol, you can find it on the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website.


Health Effects For Seniors

A stethescope used by doctors. Many doctors are noticing alcohol use on the rise in seniors.

Alcohol is something that affects seniors differently than younger people. Older people can be more susceptible to the effects of alcohol use and are more likely to deal with accidents associated with alcohol use such as falls or fractures and car crashes. Even drinking a small amount of alcohol can prove to be dangerous and even life-threatening in certain situations for seniors. According to the National Institute on Aging, alcohol is a factor in 30 percent of suicides, 40 percent of crashes, 50 percent of drownings, and 60 percent of falls.


Falls are one of the most harmful problems that seniors face, and one of the most preventable. Each year, three million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries. Likewise, there are hundreds of thousands of older people hospitalized for hip fractures.


Along with these issues that happen externally, there are a number of internal health problems that affect a number of different organs. For example, heavy drinking can lead to several problems that can affect the heart, an already vulnerable organ for older adults.


Heavy alcohol use is associated with the following:


  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Liver problems
  • Osteoporosis
  • Memory issues
  • Mood disorders and more


Alcohol is a substance that affects nearly every organ and function in the body. It is also a known carcinogen.


Alcohol and Medication

Along with these issues that you may deal with from drinking alcohol alone, the use of alcohol along with medication can lead to a number of problematic side effects. Alcohol is known to interact badly with a few types of medication including aspirin, acetaminophen, cold medicine, cough syrup, sleeping pills, opioids, and more.


Mixing alcohol and some of these medications can cause sleepiness, drowsiness, lightheadedness, and more. These problems can contribute to a number of different health risks include falls, fractures, unsafe driving, and more.


What To Do About Alcohol Use

A glass of alcohol with a red straw in it. Alcohol use is on the rise in seniors.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol, it doesn’t matter how old you are there is always time to get help, it may just end up saving your life. Drug and alcohol treatment facilities are always an option to help patients who may be suffering from some type of alcohol use or substance use disorder.


For an alcohol use disorder, a treatment center would likely have you or a loved one go through a detoxification program and several behavioral therapy treatments to help a patient overcome their respective disorder. Family therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, group counseling, and more are all common in treatment centers. These types of behavioral therapy will help patients by educating them on the details of addiction and what exactly it is doing to their bodies. It will also teach them strategies and methods to avoid triggers to use when they experience an urge or craving.


There are a variety of treatment centers available across the nation to help patients overcome whatever type of substance abuse issue that they may be dealing with.


Now What?

Obviously, alcohol use disorders can lead to a number of different health issues and, if not dealt with properly, they can lead to life-threatening problems. Alcohol is a substance that affects nearly every organ in the body and if you or your loved one does not seek help, it can cause major issues such as falls, car crashes, cancer, dementia, and more. Unfortunately, these problems can lead to issues severe enough that some older individuals may not be able to live independently. If this is the case, it may be best to seek out the help of an caregiver or an assisted living facility.


Landmark Senior Living is one type of assisted living facility in New Mexico that can help you or your loved one. Landmark has a dedicated staff that is committed to providing you and your loved one with the quality care that they deserve during this chapter of their life. If you would like to learn more please visit our website and you can schedule a free tour of one of our facilities today.


Learn More Here!


Topics: Senior Health

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