Alcoholism seniorsAlcoholism and other substance abuse addictions affect seniors and the elderly as well as other adults throughout the United States. With the Boomers joining the ranks of the Older Adult population, the numbers are likely to jump higher.  Folks coming of age in the 60’s and 70’s are familiar with different types of drug use which may continue into older age.  Pain medications and other prescription drugs contribute to the number of Older Americans battling addiction.

In 2010 about 6 to 8 million older Americans, (14 percent to 20 percent of the overall elderly population) had one or more substance abuse or mental disorders. Americans aged 65 and older is projected to increase to 73 million from 40 million by 2030.  Clearly alcohol use affects overall physical and mental health. For elders, balance issues and falls come into play – made worse by drinking.  The combo of prescription medications and liquor— makes for other or worsening health problems.

The good news is of course, Addiction/Alcoholism can be treated! Check with your primary doctor, local hospitals, Treatment Centers, Alcoholics Anonymous and other similar organizations. You cannot break the cycle and addiction on your own.  We recommend you get help sooner rather than later.

9 Red Flags of Alcoholism:

~ Increased tolerance — number of drinks to get desired effect.

~ Being pre-occupied with alcohol–thinking about your next drink.

~ Occasional lapses in memory after drinking heavily.

~Becoming annoyed when topic of your drinking is broached.

~ Wanting to continue drinking when others are done.

~ A feeling of relief when you get first drink.

~ Drinking before an occasion where there will be alcohol.

~ Using alcohol to relieve feeling tense.

~ Feeling uncomfortable when in a situation where liquor is not present.

Clearly if someone is drunk, they should not drive. Alcoholism affects the entire family who may also benefit from counseling and support. If you suspect your elder loved one, mother or father has a problem with drinking alcohol, prescription medication or other drug use, speak to an expert on how to intervene. In the meantime, safety is a major concern. If they live alone, having an assistant or caregiver to do shopping, cooking and driving can go a long way to keep them safe from falling and other accidents.