Alcoholism and the Elderly Essay

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An Age-Old Elderly Secret: “Alcoholism” University Maryland Eastern Shore September 28, 2014 An Age-Old Elderly Secret: “Alcoholism” Alcoholism and alcohol abuse among the elderly has been a hidden and quiet kept secret that is rarely recognized and often misdiagnosed. Reasons that alcohol abuse and possible dependency goes unnoticed may vary. Could it be a theory that due to the elderly not being as active in mainstream society and therefore, unfortunately, they are seen as simply invisible? Possibly, it could also surface around the etiology of their own public health existence, involving their inviting use or abuse of alcohol as the targeted agent, a genetic and possibly adoptive behavior within the elderly as the honorary host and their community or home life as the supportive environment which contributes to its ritual of impulse and distraction. Since many are retired, there is very little chance that their drinking will cause them to lose their career, be involved in traffic accidents or even be stopped by law enforcement while driving under the influence of alcohol. Consequently, the fact remains that for the elderly, if alcoholism is not diagnosed in an emergency physician visit, or a relative’s insistency of concern, there would be very few opportunities for their condition to be known. The effects of alcoholism can be very toxic, not only to anyone who consumes alcohol, but the elderly are especially at risk. Geriatrics specialists, Dr. Sally K. Rigler refers to the significance of this in a notable American Family Physician article. Rigler (2000) emphasized, “…the causes of alcohol may be increased in elderly patients because of pharmacologic changes associated with aging. Aging modifies the body’s responsiveness to alcohol and other substances including the manner and rate of

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