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Causes and Risk Factors for Alcohol Abuse in Seniors

January 22nd, 2019

Howard County Aging Adult Alcohol Abuse: How to identify and address the issue

Causes and Risk Factors for Alcohol Abuse in Seniors

From an article written by BrightStar Cares’ very own Sharon Roth Maguire, a great article touches on the importance on preventing alcohol abuse in senior care management. Though a recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry showing that people older than 65 are less likely to drink than younger people, the number of older adults who engaged in “high-risk drinking” shot up 65 percent between 2001-2002 and 2014-2017. The researchers define “high-risk drinking” as five or more drinks a day for a man and four for a woman.
“Abusing alcohol is dangerous at any age, but it can bring additional risks for our older loved ones. The first step to helping them is to understand the root cause of their drinking.
There are many reasons a loved one may begin to abuse alcohol. Older adults may drink to numb their emotions due to social isolation, deteriorating health conditions, or the deaths of family members or friends. It may start with just having a drink to help them sleep, but then spill over to other parts of their day to help them try to relax.

Aging changes how our bodies process substances, so the same amount of alcohol can have greater effects on a person as they get older. This can make our older loved ones more likely to have alcohol-related accidents, including car accidents or falls.”
Warning signs of alcohol abuse:
“Seniors’ symptoms of alcohol abuse can easily be mistaken for conditions that are associated with aging, such as memory lapses. But it’s important that we not overlook or dismiss these signs:

  • Becoming agitated or irritable when sober
  • Drinking to cope with depression or calm their nerves
  • Frequently having more than one drink a day
  • Isolating themselves and skipping appointments or family gatherings
  • Lack of typical attention to personal hygiene, such as unkempt clothing or hair
  • Lying about how many drinks they’ve had
  • Showing signs of drunkenness, such as slurred speech, stumbling, or smelling of alcohol

Many people who abuse alcohol are clever about hiding their habit, but by recognizing these red flags, you may be able to spot developing patterns and offer help.”
To read the full article please click here
Source: https://www.brightstarcare.com/resources/health-wellness/seniors-alcohol-abuse
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