The dramatic rise in alcohol abuse stems from the unique challenges that come with aging. As people age and retire, they might begin to drink earlier in the day or more often. When facing depression and hopelessness, alcohol is sometimes used to bandage the pain. Other reasons may stem from the need for pain management, coping with other disabilities, or having difficulty sleeping.
The following are ways to recognize substance use disorder in yourself or a loved one:
- Defensiveness when asked about drinking
- Drinking in the early hours of the day
- Increased confusion, disorientation, forgetfulness
- Failing to engage in normal routine, hobbies, etc.
- Frequently unreachable, turning down events they normally enjoy
- Suspicious or dishonest behaviors
It is common for family members to become deeply affected by a loved one’s substance use. Being under the influence of alcohol can result in poor decisions related to health and wellness. Former healthy lifestyle decisions may be abandoned, leaving family members feeling tense and upset. Another concern among families is the risk of suicide, and/or depression that comes with excessive drinking.
Therapeutic intervention can create a positive impact on alcoholism within the older adult population. It may be difficult for someone struggling with substance use disorder to turn to a family member or friend. Counseling offers unbiased guidance and a safe place to have an outlet. Treatment in counseling may include: screening for signs of depression, assessing for suicide risk and exploring the root of drinking problem. People often find that counseling leads to identifying barriers to a healthier lifestyle. Self-awareness is the key to healing. Reach out to a counselor in your community that has experience working with the aging population; after all, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Alcohol can be dangerous or even deadly for older people.
Older people are more sensitive to alcohol, which can increase their risk of health problems. These problems include: Injuries, Dehydration, Memory problems, Liver disease, Mood disorders, Cancer, Depression, and Suicide.
Doctors recommend most adults over 60 not drink alcohol. If you do drink, professionals recommend people over 65 shouldn’t take more than one standard drink each day and no more than 7 each week. A drink is one 12-ounce can or bottle of beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or one 1.5-ounce shot of an 80-proof or less liquor.
We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
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