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Geriatric Alcoholism and the Abuse of Alcohol by the Elderly


When it comes to the topic of alcohol abuse, the focus is often on teens and young adults. The excessive use of alcohol is, however, a problem that is not limited to a specific age group. Adults who are over the age of 65 can have a problematic relationship with alcohol as well. For the elderly, alcohol abuse may be a late-onset problem or an ongoing one. Excessive drinking can be particularly problematic for seniors, as the negative consequences may have an even greater impact than in younger adults. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism among seniors can be treated with the help of a rehabilitation facility like White Sands Treatment Center. Generally, before someone seeks help, they will need to recognize that their alcohol use has become a problem. Often, the signs of geriatric alcoholism and abuse are overlooked by family and close friends, or they are mistaken as symptoms of aging or age-related problems. For the person in question, it may be difficult to see alcohol as a problem, particularly if their drinking has been a lifelong ritual.

Alcoholism and Senior Health

As a person ages, their body becomes more sensitive to alcohol. As a result of this sensitivity, it typically takes fewer drinks to become intoxicated. For this reason, a person’s lifelong drinking habits could lead to alcohol abuse or dependency during their senior years. With age, the body’s organs are also less tolerant of alcohol, and damage such as impaired liver function can more easily occur. Alcoholism may also result in brain damage, increase one’s chances of stroke, and lead to or worsen osteoporosis. Excessive drinking can also cause immune system disorders in the elderly and may increase the risk of infections. Chronic alcohol abusers also run the risk of esophageal, head, and neck cancers. People with current health conditions such as diabetes, heart problems, and high blood pressure can make their conditions worse. Many seniors also take some form of medication on a routine basis. This presents another serious and potentially deadly problem, as alcohol should not be mixed with most medications, prescription or otherwise.

Increased Accidents and Injuries

Accidents are another consequence of elderly alcohol abuse. Family, friends, and even caregivers may mistakenly associate these alcohol-related accidents with age. Delirium and an inability to maintain one’s balance can make alcohol-impaired seniors more susceptible to falls and other accidents that can result in broken bones, bruises, and other injuries. Alcoholism in seniors may also cause insomnia or restless sleep, which may also lead to accidents.

Mood Disorders

For some, alcohol abuse is accompanied by anxiety or depression. Life-changing issues such as retirement, the loss of longtime friends or siblings, or the death of a spouse can cause some seniors to spiral from grief and sadness to depression. As a result, they may drink more frequently in an attempt to deal with their emotions. Over time, the consumption of alcohol to cope with depression can actually make the symptoms worse. In addition, alcohol abuse is also a risk factor for depression.

Geriatric alcoholism is a serious concern that requires safe, professional treatment at a location that is private. At White Sands Treatment Center, we are the solution that you are looking for: Our staff can help you get and stay sober. We are an accredited facility that employs board-certified doctors, nurses, and counselors to aid you or your loved one on the path toward successful rehabilitation and recovery. Seniors who seek care at White Sands Treatment Center undergo an individualized assessment, which enables us to design a customized program that provides the best level of care for your situation and needs. We even offer a dual diagnosis treatment approach suitable for those who suffer from mood disorders and alcohol dependency. Call us today to find out how we can help you or your loved ones overcome alcohol abuse.

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