Alcoholism Among the Elderly Is a Growing Trend

An American educator named John W. Gardner once commented that there is no other health problem that has been as neglected nationally as alcoholism. Doctors decline alcoholics as patients, hospitals won’t admit them and available treatment methods haven’t been widely useful.

Recently, we see that many elderly have become hidden alcoholics due to loneliness and depression. They have gone from leading productive lives to no longer having family or friends around to support them as they are left alone at home or in nursing homes, according to a recent article in Frost Illustrated.

Most of the elderly are on a variety of medications that do not mix safely with alcohol. When these patients are then hospitalized, often no one knows they are alcoholics which can lead to withdrawal signs complicating treatment.

A simple bout of pneumonia can become complicated with an unknown alcoholic as it lowers the immune system. Alcoholism also causes mineral and vitamin deficiencies that can lead to chronic brain diseases or deficits of the neurological system.

If an alcoholic is admitted, they need to be treated for such deficiencies and given supplements like B1, or thiamine and magnesium in conjunction with other nutrients they are lacking. This becomes complicated when the doctors don’t know the elderly person is an alcoholic. Social Service agencies need to be more aware of the conditions that lead to alcoholism with the elderly, and these elderly individuals also need to be encouraged to become involved in recreational activities for peer interaction.

It is important to make sure you have a neighbor or friend who regularly checks on your elderly family member and also has a key. Check with the nursing home or senior center to get your elderly loved one plugged in to recreational activities to help avoid this growing problem.