The only way to eliminate the risk developing a dependence on alcohol during your senior years is to quit drinking. There are numerous rehab facilities throughout the country that specialize in senior alcohol abuse. Treatment specialists are able to carefully monitor a patient’s withdrawal symptoms during detox, as well as help them overcome future urges and triggers. Give us a call now to learn more about treatment options available nearby and get started on your recovery plan. Alcoholism chronic disease.
What Causes Bad Drinking Habits Later in Life?
There are a variety of factors that can contribute to alcoholism in the elderly. As a person ages, they may face major life changes such as solidarity, financial difficulties and deteriorating health.
Several situations that may lead to excessive drinking in older individuals include:
Empty nest syndrome (when children grow up and move away)
Loss of friendships due to moves, health complications or death
Deteriorating health conditions (cardiovascular disease, vision/hearing loss and diabetes)
Alcoholism/addiction as a chronic disease from rhetoric to clinical reality
Traumatic events like a spouse’s illness or death
Sadness after downsizing a home
Boredom from retirement or lack of socialization
Alcohol is a depressant. These substances affect the brain’s neurotransmitters, which are responsible for behavior and emotions. When a person drinks, endorphins are released in the brain that stimulate feelings of pleasure and happiness. A dependency on alcohol can lead to an array of problems down the road that impact not only the elderly, but those around them.
Risk Factors for Alcoholism in the Elderly
Alcoholism can affect a person of any age, ethnicity, faith or background. However, certain factors like chronic drinking, gender and medical history can increase the risk of senior alcohol use.
Chronic drinkers – those who habitually consume an excessive amount of alcohol – make up a large number of seniors who struggle with alcoholism. In fact, roughly two-thirds of older adults who have a drinking problem are chronic drinkers. Chronic drinking can sometimes start in early adulthood and persist throughout an individual’s golden years. Other times, a person may achieve sobriety, but relapse down the road.
As individuals enter their senior years, women are more likely than men to develop dangerous drinking habits. A number of studies are being conducted to determine the cause of this shift in recent trends.
Frequent drinking greatly increases a woman’s risk of developing health complications such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems and liver disease. Additionally, a growing number of women are experimenting with binge drinking. This involves consuming four or more alcoholic beverages in a two-hour time period. Between 2005 and 2006 alone, binging among senior women rose 44 percent.
Chronic health conditions, which are long-term diseases that worsen over time, can also increase the risk for elderly alcohol dependence. Recent studies suggest that seniors suffering from multiple chronic conditions are roughly five times more likely to have a drinking problem. The most common chronic conditions among seniors include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and cancer.
Han, Moore, Sherman, Keyes, Palamar. Demographic trends of binge alcohol use and alcohol use disorders among older adults in the United States, 2005–2014. January 2017. http://www.drugandalcoholdependence.com/article/S0376-8716(16)30997-8/abstract
Chronic alcoholism heart disease
Merrick, Horgan, Hodgkin, Garnick, Houghton, et al. (2008). Unhealthy drinking patterns in older adults: prevalence and associated characteristics. January 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18086124