Excessive Drinking May Be Missed in Elderly Patients

Posted on October 21st, 2010

Alcohol addiction is a growing problem here in the United States not only in younger people, but also surprisingly in a substantial proportion of older adults. According to a recent study from Brandeis University, one out of ten elderly adults who are on Medicare have reported to drinking alcohol excessively, and this health risk often goes undetected by health providers. Elizabeth Merrick, senior scientist at Brandeis led a study that sheds light onto the abuse of alcohol by the elderly population.

The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society evaluated data taken from 12,413 Medicare beneficiaries over the age of 65. Merrick found that nine percent of those in the study had engaged in unhealthy drinking habits. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, unhealthy drinking for people 65 and over is considered to be when they consume more than seven drinks per week, or more than four drinks per day. The problem is many older people do not realize that the recommended limit for drinking is much lower than that for younger people. The older someone is, the less their body is able to metabolize alcohol making them more sensitive to its harmful effects. Thus, the elderly populations who abuse alcohol are at a higher risk for medical problems, increased falls, and problems that may arise from mixing alcohol with medications. Merrick explains that the relationship between alcohol consumption and the risks is very complex.

Our study focused only on amounts of alcohol consumed. There are many people for whom lower amounts or even any amount of alcohol may constitute a serious risk because of specific medical problems or medication interactions. All of these factors must be taken into account, along with the perhaps more highly publicized benefits of moderate drinking for some people.”

As Merrick’s study shows, alcohol addiction can be a problem for people of all ages. But it appears as though the health risks are much higher for the elderly because their bodies are more susceptible to dangerous health problems. The best approach to dealing with alcohol addictions for people of any age is to seek an individualized treatment program that will best suit the specific person’s needs. Whether you’re 22 or 65, there is hope for defeating the addiction and getting back to a healthy and enjoyable life and Promises Austin can be that hope.

For more information on drug and alcohol recovery programs, please contact Promises Austin today!

 

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