There are many reasons elderly people may turn to alcohol or drugs in later life. Children grow up and leave home. It becomes necessary to give up a job or move to a smaller home. Friends grow fewer and farther apart. Physical health fails. A partner of many years gets ill or dies. The very real difficulties of aging can easily pile up and impel seniors toward alcohol or drugs. A person may have even had a problem for a long time that has continued to get worse over the years. The National Council on Addiction and Drug Dependence reports some dramatic statistics:
There are 2.5 million older adults with an alcohol or drug problem.
Alcohol or drug problems lead to:
- 6-11% of elderly hospital admissions
- 14% of elderly emergency room admissions
- 20% of elderly psychiatric hospital admissions
Widowers over the age of 75 have the highest rate of alcoholism in the U.S.
Nearly 50% of nursing home residents have alcohol-related problems.
Older adults are hospitalized as often for alcoholic-related problems as for heart attacks.
Nearly 17 million prescriptions for tranquilizers are prescribed for older adults each year.
Benzodiazepines, a type of tranquilizing drug, are the most commonly misused and abused prescription medications.
Drinking too much alcohol increases people’s risk of injuries, violence, drowning, liver disease and some types of cancer. Park Ridge Health Home Health encourages you to educate yourself and your loved ones about the dangers of drinking too much. If you are drinking too much, you can improve your health by cutting back or quitting.
Here are some strategies to help you cut back or stop drinking:
- Limit your drinking to no more than one drink a day for women, or two drinks a day for men.
- Keep track of how much you drink.
- Choose a day each week when you will not drink.
- Don’t drink when you are upset.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you keep at home.
- Avoid places where people drink a lot.
- Make a list of reasons not to drink.