Senior Health Series: Alcohol and Drug Addiction
Most people don’t see anything wrong with going out once in a while and having a few drinks. If they did, thousands of bars, pubs and other establishments would be out of business. Seniors are no exception here. However, millions of people also suffer from alcohol related problems, and unfortunately seniors are no exception there either.
Alcoholism doesn’t stop once you reach a certain age. Statistics show that more than one in ten hospital admissions of elderly patients are because of alcohol related problems. That’s a lot, and with seniors making up an increasing percentage of the population, those raw numbers are likely to climb.
When they drink heavily, seniors are especially at risk. They typically have less muscle mass to absorb alcohol, meaning it stays in their bloodstream longer and takes longer to get rid of. It also makes them more prone to falling, which in a senior’s case can cause serious injury. Drinking alcohol in excess can dramatically increase blood pressure and lead to heart attack, stroke and blurred vision. Add in the fact that many of the medications a senior might take don’t react well with alcohol and you literally have a prescription for disaster.
Like Alzheimer’s, gluten sensitivity or even the common cold, alcoholism is a disease and should be treated. The treatments options may include out-patient therapy, in-patient rehab or outside organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous.
It may be tempting to regard a senior and say: “they’ve earned the right to make their own decisions.” However intervention may be necessary. Remember you’re never too old to fall into bad habits, just as you’re never too old to start living a healthy lifestyle.