Alcoholism is on the rise with a 17% increase since 2005. While many may think of heavy drinking as an issue that affects the young, the percentage includes a large number of senior citizens. Alcoholism among the elderly often goes unchecked and can increase risk of death or injury among the aged population.
Life Changes Bring Stressors
For many seniors, life as they knew it is changing. They may find themselves downsizing from the home they have lived in for years. Days that were once filled with jobs and social interaction are now spent mostly alone and the death of friends, family members, and partners may leave them bereft.
Any one of these changes can cause a sometimes-drinker to turn into something more serious.
Age Related Issues Mask Drinking
Doctors and family members often miss signs of alcoholism in the elderly due to symptoms mimicking other common issues such as dementia, memory loss, general slowing down, and even things like depression and anxiety. Alcoholics can also go to great lengths to have excuses for their behavior or inability to focus or fulfill responsibilities.
This day and age has a pill for everything and many seniors take several a day. Interactions between these drugs and alcohol can cause an increase in the effects of alcohol on the system and lead to more serious issues. Such interactions can lead seniors to drink more without realizing the negative effect drinking is having on them.
Social Drinking Gone Bad
Those seniors who crave companionship can fall into the wrong crowd, much like their younger counterparts. They may find themselves spending more time at the bar or pub then they intended without keeping track of what they are drinking. While an occasional night on the town is not harmful, an every night habit can turn into an addiction.
Family Members in Denial
Those seniors who are lucky enough to have close family members may still lack the support they need, as family members may not believe there is a problem or blame it on something else. It is easier to think Grandpa is depressed or sad at the loss of his pet than admit something as serious as a drinking problem exists.
It is important to remember that alcoholism knows no social, economic, gender, or age boundaries. It can affect anyone at any time and is a serious issue that needs to be addressed and treated by experienced substance abuse counselors and rehab centers. It is never too late for a second chance. For more information or assistance, contact a rehab facility like Pacific Ridge.
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