Alcoholism is one of the most common forms of addiction that affect older people in America. And if not resolved, it can lead to various serious health complications. As such, providers of home health care in California give a guide on helping seniors in dealing with alcoholism and protecting themselves.
To be clear, consuming alcohol per se is not bad. It has various health benefits, including:
- Maintaining a healthy heart: Drinking alcohol in moderation can lower your risk of having a heart attack by as much as 40%.
- Prevents kidney stones: Alcoholic drinks make you pee more often, reducing the chances of kidney stone formation by up to 41% for those who drink beer.
- Helps strengthen your brain: Red wine contains resveratrol, a natural phenol that can help prevent Alzheimer’s [ disease.
- Protects you from diabetes: Wine also contains various chemicals that can help balance your blood sugar.
- Improves your social health: Drinking with friends and family is a great way to mingle and reconnect. This one is good for your mental health.
Doctors cite these benefits as good reasons to drink from time to time. However, the key here is doing it in moderation. But how much should that moderation be?
The US Department of Health recommends that older adults 65 years old and above who do not take medications limit their drinking to fewer than three drinks a day. That should translate to just seven drinks in a week. Meanwhile, seniors who take medication should take in less or abstain completely.
How Alcohol Impact Changes As You Age
These recommendations are not without basis. As you age, your body’s response to alcohol changes significantly. For starters, you become more sensitive to it. This change is because your body produces fewer enzymes that break down the substance. With that, you might find yourself getting drunk faster than before.
That slower breakdown of alcohol also means that the effects last longer. In particular, you might feel longer bouts of dehydration. That is because your sense of thirst diminishes. That means you are not able to replenish fluids faster.
Additionally, certain medications can have side effects when mixed with alcohol. While these would not be significant for younger people, they become more pronounced as you age. They can also carry more risks.
Greater Health Risks
Ultimately, heavy consumption of alcohol can increase your risk for various medical conditions. These include:
- Orthostasis – the increase in blood pressure when you stand up
- Muscle weakness
- Liver problems
- Memory and brain problems
Some of these health risks might be less pronounced at their onset. Thus, you might go on drinking without realizing that you have these conditions already. However, when the symptoms become more pronounced, it might be too late.
Where Does Addiction Begin?
It is worth noting that around two-thirds of seniors diagnosed with alcoholism see the start of the condition during their younger years. People are less likely to develop alcoholism later in life due to having fewer social engagements that would entice them to go drinking.
Nevertheless, late-stage alcoholism is still a significant, if under-recognized, problem. According to an epidemiologic survey by JAMA Psychiatry, late-stage alcoholism increased by 107% in the last decade.
The most common cause of alcoholism in older people is drinking as a coping mechanism. As people grow older, they are more likely to experience loss. Some situations that might lead seniors to start drinking include:
- Retirement: People might become worried about what they have to do next once they leave the routines they are used to.
- Financial instability: Retirement also brings concerns about the potential loss of income and how it affects their lives.
- Grief: As you grow old, you will inevitably have to deal with the death of your loved ones. They might also have to deal with the pain of separation from family.
In all of these, seniors may turn to drinking to forget about the pain they feel. While it does work for a while, they have to face the same situation by the time they are sober. That creates a cycle in which they drink more to drown their worries.
How You Can Help Your Older Loved Ones Deal With Alcoholism
Trying to help your older loved ones come to terms with and resolve their alcoholism requires a strategic approach. Here, you need to consider their emotional state. Choose a time when they are sober so that you can begin talking with them about the problem.
You might also want to do it when they are experiencing the negative effects of alcohol. That will make them better see your concerns and allow them to open up.
Talking To Them The Right Way
How you direct the conversation will also contribute to your success in convincing them. Avoid using strong labels like “alcoholic” that might create stigma. Older people tend to react more negatively to this. Instead, you want to show compassion and the desire to help them.
Once you manage to open up the conversation, ask questions that would help them self-reflect on their situation. For instance, you can ask them about their life goals. You can then ask them how they think their drinking problem will affect those goals.
It is also vital to bring up treatment options in the conversation. Note that your older loved ones might be hesitant about this at first. So, you need to explain patiently how these can help them.
Some of the treatment options include:
- Cognitive behavior therapy: This helps seniors better manage emotions like grief and loneliness, and rebuild their social support.
- Marital and family therapy: It encourages family members to be present during treatment as a source of moral support.
- Counseling: Your loved one can either go through individual or group sessions with a specialist to help them come to terms with the problem.
- Medical intervention: These procedures help them detoxify their bodies and bring their blood alcohol levels back to manageable ranges.
Amavi can help you get in touch with specialists for these treatments. From there, we will assist your loved ones during the treatment process.
Besides these treatments, you can also do your interventions. For instance, you can monitor and log their alcohol intake to ensure that they are not going above the allowable limits. Additionally, you can look for ways to redirect their attention from drinking, like encouraging them to do other activities.
Get The Best Home Health Care In California To Help Deal With Alcoholism
We understand that alcoholism can have a significant impact on the lives of older people. That is why we provide comprehensive care treatment to help them. Contact us today and get the best provider of home health care in California to bring your elderly loved ones back to sobriety.