Chances are, if Uncle Joe has always to be known to be the life of the party after a few drinks at family gatherings, no one has ever considered the fact that everyone’s favorite uncle may be an alcoholic. The truth is that alcoholism in the elderly is very common – more so than most like to think, especially in persons aged 60 and older. In many cases alcohol abuse goes unrecognized.
There are many reasons why an individual may change their drinking pattern including the loss of a life-long spouse or partner. Much of the time the change begins with a drink before bedtime or an afternoon cocktail before dinner, in addition to drinking during dinner. Many do not realize that to get through the day they need several drinks.
Alcohol and Metabolism in the Elderly
Reports issued by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggest that nearly two-thirds of the elderly with alcohol abuse in the U.S. struggle with the effects of early onset alcoholism; while the remaining one-third developed alcohol dependency later in life.
As a person ages, metabolic rates slow down allowing alcohol to stay in the system for much longer periods of time. An elderly individual under the influence of alcohol put themselves at risk for falls and fractures and also at risk for immune system disorders, certain type of cancers and brain damage and increase their risk for organ damage such as kidney and liver damage.
Another consideration is that alcohol abuse will often make worse chronic health conditions such as heart conditions, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and osteoporosis. In the same way, alcohol abuse will camouflage health concerns in seniors, making it difficult for doctors to treat.
Alcohol and Medicines in the Elderly
In the elderly, mixing medications with alcohol can be deadly. Combining alcohol and acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) can lead to liver damage and failure. Seniors taking an aspirin regimen should discuss their alcohol use with their doctor as it may lead to intestinal and stomach bleeding. Mixing alcohol with sedatives and anti-depressants can increase the symptoms and result in accidental overdose.
Seeking Medical Assistance
Whether alcohol consumption has occurred for a few months, a few years or many decades, it is never too late to stop drinking. Seniors who want to stop their alcohol use should talk to their doctor or seek assistance from an inpatient medical detox facility.
In some instances, before medical detox, your doctor may want to perform certain tests to check for organ damage or other health concerns.
After successful completion of the detox, most patients find it very beneficial to attend a rehab program or participate in a community recovery group such as a 12-step or other non-traditional program.
Do you known an elderly person who is struggling with the effects of alcoholism? Gallus Detox Center can help. We are a private medical detox facility that specializes in IV therapy medical detox for alcohol and drug abuse. Call us today at 855-338-6929. All calls are confidential and we accept most insurance.