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Alcoholism and Seniors
Written By : SeniorsList 
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Alcoholism is an alarming and growing problem among the elderly, and it is rarely discussed and often times go unnoticed. In this article, we’ll talk about some of the reasons drinking problems arise in seniors and what we can do to help out.

Here are some common reasons alcoholism begins:

Grief and Loss: Losing a spouse or loved one can bring a lot of pain to seniors and turning to alcohol provides a way to numb this sadness. Making this even more difficult is this senior may now live alone, both making it harder for friends and family to recognize the drinking problem and compounding feelings of isolation and loneliness from the surviving senior. Grief of course isn’t unique to seniors, but this can become more difficult as we age and lose people we care about.

Loneliness: Like the above reason, simple loneliness and isolation can be devastating and difficult to deal with and some seniors turn to drinking to fill a void in their life. This can often happen if friends or family doesn’t visit often or if the senior has mobility issues causing them to be housebound. Communication and interaction is vital to our well-being, so it’s important to take time to visit with those seniors we love.

Recovery: Injuries can cause great physical pain to seniors and lead to not only taking medication but may lead to the abuse of alcohol on top of this. Mixing medication and alcohol can have serious consequences, so if there are issues that need to be addressed, it’s best to do so with your doctor and not try and “self-medicate” by drinking alcohol.

While these are just a few of the reasons alcohol abuse may begin, there are also reasons it goes unnoticed. First, seniors tend to be more isolated than other adults. They no longer work, so obligations to get up early and perform simply don’t apply. Failure to complete duties is one sign of alcohol abuse that appears in most people but may not appear in seniors. Second, seniors tend to drink at home. They are no longer going out to drink so there is no fear of drunk driving or public scrutiny. While there are more reasons alcoholism may appear in seniors, these are examples of why it may be difficult to detect. And then there are the additional dangers. Seniors are already at increased risk of falling. Drinking only increases this risk. Mixing alcohol with medication can lead to blackouts. This is dangerous to everyone but in particular smokers for fear of starting a fire.

The best defense against alcohol abuse for the elderly is involvement. If you can be there to take away some of the loneliness, you may prevent the problem from the beginning. But you should also look for signs that drinking has increased. Is your loved one drinking earlier in the day? Are they on medication that shouldn’t be mixed with alcohol? Just because a senior has never had a drinking problem in the past, doesn’t mean one can’t arise. So, please pay attention and stay involved in their life.

Copyright © 2011

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