It may surprise many family caregivers to learn that alcohol abuse among elderly adults in the United States is a rapidly growing health issue. Even worse, the problems are often unrecognized by family members and undiagnosed by doctors. This leaves a very vulnerable population in a dangerous environment where they do not get the help they need to overcome their alcohol abuse. Caregivers can learn more about the symptoms of alcoholism in aging adults so that they will be able to see the early warning signs as part of their elderly care duties.
Alcoholism in Elderly Adults
Most people think of alcoholic seniors as those who have struggled with drinking their entire lives. However, the fastest growing group of alcohol abusers is late onset drinkers, or those that have turned toward substance abuse in their later years. Often they turn to drinking as a way to manage heavy emotions from life-changing events such as retirement, financial stress, family conflicts, loss of a spouse, diagnosis of a physical illness, mental health issues like depression, relocation from their home, empty nest and even for insomnia. What starts as a coping mechanism soon turns into full-scale alcohol abuse.
Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse in the Elderly
-Family caregivers are in the unique position to be able to recognize alcoholism in their elderly relatives. However, too many people are not aware of what that looks like in the elderly. Common symptoms of alcohol abuse include changes in sleeping habits, irritability, memory issues, chronic pain, lying about drinking, hiding alcohol, wanting to be left alone, no interest in hobbies or leisure activity, and cutting off family members and friends.
-Because these symptoms can often mimic other age-related conditions, it can be hard for family members to determine what is worth reporting to the doctor or not as part of their elderly care duties. However, alcohol addiction is not something to ignore, as it can lead to a number of health problems for seniors including complications for diabetes, liver function, osteoporosis and cognitive impairment. Other complications can arise from slip and fall accidents caused by alcohol consumption. Seniors often mix alcohol with their prescription medications, causing further health risks.
-Once a family caregiver observes their elderly loved one’s drinking habits, they need to get a doctor involved. When the elderly adult’s alcohol addiction is identified the doctor will be able to plan out a program that can help seniors get sober. Family caregivers will need to provide a lot of support for their aging loved one throughout the recovery time. Regardless of how old the elderly adult is or how long they have been drinking, there are senior-specific treatment options available to get them back to health and wellness.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering elder care in Bayside, NY, please contact the caring staff at Family First Home Companions.
Serving all of Long Island. Call today: (631) 319-3961
Jennifer has specialized training in Alzheimer’s disease through the Long Island Alzheimer’s Association and the Long Island Alzheimer’s Foundation.She also volunteered her time with the Alzheimer's Disease Assistance Center of Long Island for 3 years by providing cognitive stimulation to an Alzheimer’s patient group.
Jennifer educates the community about elder care and speaks to caregiver support groups, senior centers, and at professional organizations.Topics include home safety, effective strategies for family caregiving, elder care planning, and awareness about elder abuse.
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