Alcohol Abuse And The Older Adult Essay

1238 WordsMar 15, 20115 Pages
Alcohol Abuse and the Older Adult Alcohol abuse among older adults is a more serious problem than many people realize. Anyone at any age can have a drinking problem. Alcohol abuse in later life is often hidden or overlooked by families, doctors, and the public. For example, many older adults drink in the privacy of their homes and are less likely to be disruptive in public or arrested for driving while intoxicated (Rohleader,W (1999). Even when family, friends, and professionals recognize that an alcohol problem exists, they are reluctant to confront an older person. This reluctance may be related to fear of making the older person angry, lack of knowledge about alcohol problems in later life, or the older person’s denial of drinking behavior (Goldberg, 2003). Alcohol slows down brain activity. Drinking increases the risk of falls and accidents because alcohol affects alertness, judgment, coordination, and reaction time. Some research has shown that it takes less alcohol to affect older people than younger ones (Clark, 2003). Over time, heavy drinking permanently damages the brain and central nervous system, as well as the liver, heart, kidneys, and stomach. Alcohol’s effects can make some medical problems hard to diagnose. For example, alcohol causes changes in the heart and blood vessels that can dull pain that might be a warning sign of a heart attack. It also can cause forgetfulness and confusion, which can seem like Alzheimer’s disease (Goldberg, 2003). Alcohol is often harmful if mixed with prescription or over the counter medicines. This is a special problem for people over 65, because they are often heavy users of prescription medicines and over the counter drugs (Goldberg, 2003). As people age, the body’s ability to absorb and dispose of alcohol and other drugs changes. Mixing alcohol with other drugs such as

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