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Understanding the Reasons for Alcoholism in the Elderly

Approximately 80,000 senior citizens in the United States are alcoholics. Drinking too much alcohol can be especially dangerous for this age group, as it can exacerbate the symptoms of various health conditions seniors commonly experience, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure. The following are common reasons elderly men and women turn to alcohol in their golden years as well as ways you can help prevent your loved one from making this choice. 


Older people often experience ongoing medical conditions, decreased mobility, and financial difficulty. Some provide Summit in-home care for an ill spouse or are recently widowed. All of these factors can lead to depression, and many seniors turn to alcohol to numb the resulting sadness. Visiting the doctor for an antidepressant prescription or participating in a support group could help lessen the depression your loved one may be feeling.


Sleep patterns often change as a person grows older. Your loved one may be unable to fall asleep at night due to taking too many naps during the day, or he or she may have developed a health condition that affects sleep. Alcohol relaxes the mind and body and can help a person fall asleep. To help remedy your loved one’s insomnia, his or her naps should be limited and especially not taken after dinner. 


Elderly people often worry about having enough funds to pay bills, doctor appointments, and nutritional needs. Alcohol can calm the mind and body and seemingly minimize these problems for a short time. Many seniors have found having a pet is a great stress reliever. Consider getting a dog or a cat for your loved one. He or she can turn to this companion for some unconditional love and attention as a diversion from stress. 


Some seniors experience pain from arthritis, broken bones, and other ailments associated with the aging process. Alcohol temporarily reduces the pain felt from these symptoms. To avoid your loved one using alcohol in lieu of pain medication, there are many prescriptions or homeopathic remedies that can decrease pain. Taking a relaxing bath or applying a heating pad may also help.


Older men and women are often lost after their spouses or friends pass away. They drink to dull the loneliness and patronize drinking establishments to be social with others. To prevent this, your loved one should take up a new hobby or interest that involves other people such as an exercise group or a book club. He or she can also join senior groups that offer regular outings, or you may want to consider hiring a caregiver in Summit to provide him or her with regular companionship.

Having a companion available on a part-time or live-in basis may be the key to steering your loved one away from drinking too much alcohol. At Home Care Assistance, our compassionate caregivers can provide emotional support as well as help with a variety of daily tasks, which can take away a great deal of the stress your loved one may be experiencing. We also offer specialized Parkinson’s, post-stroke, and dementia care Summit families trust. For more information or to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Care Managers, call 908.450.9400 today.