Select Page
Spread the love

Alcoholism in older adults is an often-overlooked issue in our society today. As people age and go through major life changes, retire from jobs, experience health issues, and become more isolated, their drinking problems can easily escalate. Recognizing the common signs and red flags of alcoholism in the elderly population is the critical first step to intervening and getting older loved ones the help and treatment, they desperately need.

Signs of Alcoholism in the Elderly

There are several red flags that may indicate an elderly loved one is struggling with alcoholism:

  • Hiding or downplaying drinking – Older adults may drink secretly and deny or minimize their alcohol use. Finding hidden liquor bottles is a clue.
  • Drinking daily – Regularly drinking every day, especially first thing in the morning, points to alcohol dependency.
  • Mixing alcohol with medications – Combining alcohol with prescription drugs like sleep aids or pain pills can signal abuse. This is very risky.
  • Slurred speech and lack of coordination – These can indicate intoxication and likely alcoholism, though some may write it off as signs of aging.
  • Neglecting hygiene – Declining self-care like infrequent bathing, dirty clothes and unkempt appearance may accompany late-stage alcoholism.
  • Decline in health – Chronic diseases and frequent infections, falls or injuries can indicate alcoholism in the elderly.
  • Withdrawal from family and friends – Social isolation and loss of interest in activities beyond drinking is common.

Paying attention to these possible signs can help identify elderly alcoholism.

Health Risks of Drinking in Old Age

Alcohol abuse in older adults poses severe health risks:

  • Weakened immune system – Alcohol makes it harder to fight infections and heal properly from illness or injury.
  • Liver damage – Heavy drinking taxes the liver, causing fatty liver, fibrosis or cirrhosis. This can be fatal.
  • Increased risk of certain cancers – Alcohol use heightens the chance of mouth, throat, breast and colon cancers.
  • Exacerbation of chronic diseases – Drinking worsens conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, memory loss and mood disorders.
  • Medication interactions – Combining alcohol with prescriptions is extremely dangerous and can have severe side effects.
  • Fall risks and memory impairment – Intoxication increases risks of falls and confusion which can be very harmful for the elderly.

Knowing these health risks underscores the importance of addressing alcoholism in aging loved ones.

Getting Help for an Elderly Alcoholic

Though challenging, getting treatment for an alcoholic elderly loved one is vital. Steps include:

  • Speaking up with compassion – Have an honest talk explaining worries about their drinking and health. Assure your support.
  • Consulting a specialist – Get guidance from an interventionist on safely conducting an intervention and motivating change.
  • Hosting an intervention – Along with loved ones, clearly explain how the alcoholism is impacting health and relationships.
  • Researching suitable treatment – Look into customized rehab programs that address the unique needs of older alcoholics.
  • Following up on treatment – Ensure enrollment and attendance for the full treatment term, plus transitional support like therapy and 12-step work.
  • Attending Al-Anon – Seek out support groups like Al-Anon to learn coping strategies as a loved one of an alcoholic.

With alcoholism intervention help, the compassionate persistence of loved ones can impel an aging alcoholic to accept help and enter treatment, despite their denial and resistance. By stopping enabling behaviors that cover up or minimize the effects of their drinking, recovery truly becomes possible for elderly alcoholics. Many resources like support groups, counseling, adult children of alcoholic’s groups, geriatric care managers, home health aides, social workers, and rehab facilities exist to provide essential aid to alcoholic seniors on the difficult but hopeful path to improved physical health, cognitive function, quality of life and sobriety.


Spread the love
Call Now Button