Alcoholism in the Elderly

Alcoholism in the elderly population is on the rise. It isn’t always noticed by family members because symptoms are attributed to the aging process. Alcohol related medical problems are responsible for more hospitalizations in the elderly than heart attacks. It costs more than 230 million dollars in Medicare expenses which taxpayers have to absorb. Often the elderly mix alcohol, over the counter medications, and prescription drugs which further endanger their health. Studies have shown that when the person stops drinking, many health related issues disappear.

Alcoholism is hidden among the elderly more than any other age group due to the amount of time they spend alone. Loneliness and depression further aggravate the problem. Of the 65 years and older population, 4 to 8% suffer from alcoholism and it is said to be more like 10 to 15% in communal housing situations. It goes further unnoticed because falls are considered part of the aging process when it is really alcohol causing the problem.

If you have an elderly person living alone in your family, the following symptoms may be observed;

  • Frequent falls
  • Forgetfulness
  • Slurred speech
  • Ulcers
  • Abnormally high blood pressure
  • Inflammation of stomach and pancreas
  • Failure to keep appointments
  • Frequent drowsiness
  • Desire to be alone
  • Mood Swings
  • Liver Disease

Many people think if an elderly person wants to have a few drinks, why shouldn’t they? They no longer have any responsibilities such as small children or a job. Alcoholism can affect their life as much as it affects younger people. No matter how old a person is, quality sobriety can make life enjoyable. There are not as many alcohol rehabs for the elderly as there are for younger people, but they can be found. One of the worst things the elderly suffer from is too much time alone. It is possible to find meaningful friendships in rehabs or Alcoholics Anonymous.

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