Alcoholism Among Older Adults: What is Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a severe form of alcohol abuse. Meaning the person is unable to control drinking behaviors. If left untreated, the alcoholic can spiral out of control. This includes all areas of life are negatively affected. While drinking when of legal age is often a part of people’s lives, when drinking begins affecting things such as family, friends, finances, and personal health than it is likely a problem exists. For some this may come on slowly over time. While for others it may happen quickly.
When you think of an alcoholic you may have a certain image in your head. But the truth is anyone at any age can be an alcoholic. This article will focus on those older adults who are suffering from alcoholism.
Alcoholism among older adults has increased in past years in America. Drinking problems for those entering into their golden years are often misdiagnosed. Even overlooked simply because of age. Misdiagnosis is common because the symptoms of an alcohol addiction in older adults can mimic other issues. Such as depression with insomnia, anxiety, and mood swings.
So why do older adults who have never drank much in the past, suddenly turn to alcohol? The reasons behind alcoholism are varied. One specific cause may not ever be found, but for older adults some of the following reasons may come into play. Empty nest syndrome, when children grow up and move away, may lead to drinking for the parent. At about the same time, many people retire and stop socializing as much which can lead to drinking from boredom.
As adults age, deteriorating health and traumatic events can be triggers. Such as losing a loved one or friends due to health and moves can lead to drinking excessively. Finally, simple sadness over the life changes that occur in the aging population could lead to drinking. While none of these reasons are good cause to become an alcoholic or drink in excess, they may be premeditating causes to a problem.
Risk Factors for the Elderly
Though alcoholism does not discriminate, there are some factors that can increase the risk of alcohol abuse in seniors. Things such as being a chronic drinker. This can lead to alcohol abuse as drinking behaviors increase with the addition of time after retirement. Surprisingly, gender can also play a role. Reason being older women are more likely to develop dangerous drinking habits later in life. Unfortunately, frequent drinking for women can worsen common health problems like liver disease, cardiovascular issues, and high blood pressure. For both genders, chronic health conditions that are often diagnosed in old age can increase the chances of alcohol dependence.
Signs of Alcohol Abuse in the Aging
If you suspect an aging loved one is suffering from alcohol abuse, look for the following signs: Drinking as a way to deal with depression, mixing alcohol with prescription medications, becoming agitated when sober, and exhibiting typical signs of drunkenness. Additional signs may include lying about how much they drink, hiding liquor bottles, or putting themselves in danger due to drinking. If these sound familiar then seek help for your loved one. No matter the age, addiction is worth defeating. DARA can help, pick up the phone and get the information you need today.
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