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Alcohol Use In Baby Boomers | Fedelta Home Care, Seattle WA

July 15, 2012

Alcohol Use In Baby Boomers

Alcohol and substance abuse amongst the elderly is a widespread problem that is often undiagnosed and ignored by the medical community. And as the baby boomer generation reaches retirement, more and more seniors are discovering that they need to change their attitude regarding alcohol.

According to the Pew Research Center, more than 10,000 Americans a day will reach the age of 65, a trend that is expected to continue for the next 18 years. It is estimated that by 2030, 79 million Americans will reach that age.

Seniors are often less active in mainstream society and are less likely to encounter trouble with the law. In addition, most seniors over the age of 65 are retired, making it unlikely that alcohol abuse would affect their career.

Most seniors who begin drinking later in life do so out of feelings of social isolation and physical health issues. Others are affected grief caused by the death of a spouse.

Symptoms of alcohol abuse among seniors is often mistaken or misdiagnosed. It is important to be able to recognize the signs that an older adult may be an alcoholic:

  • Bruises, cuts and injuries on areas of the body that might suggest frequent falls.
  • Erratic eye movement.
  • Poor hygiene or self-neglect.
  • Malnutrition and muscle wasting.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Unusual restlessness or anxiety.

Studies have shown that baby boomers are statistically unlikely to admit to drug or alcohol abuse and seek medical help due to feelings of embarrassment. This issue is compounded by the fact that some doctors do not feel that elderly alcoholics exist, according to a report by the American Medical Association (AMA). This can be attributed to the fact that physicians often use the standard CAGE Questionnaire, which has proven ineffective in determining if an older adult is abusing alcohol.

The AMA is urging doctors nationwide to take a closer look at elderly patients to better identify substance abuse.

With a proper diagnosis, the AMA says, alcohol and drug abuse among baby boomers is possible and highly effective.