According to Paula’s Span ‘s New York Times blog New Old Age, about assisted living 70% of all older people in assisted living drink alcohol.
Does that surprise you? Increasingly geriatric care managers, need to and do worry about alcohol.
Substance abuse or dependence, including alcohol use, drug misuse, and nicotine use, can have severe negative physical, cognitive, and psychological consequences for the older adult. Geriatric Care manager screening for this is essential, not only to detect the problem, but to identify potentially harmful interactions with other physical and mental conditions that could lead to high blood pressure, falls, or memory loss. Improper substance use can increase comorbidities and interfere in the treatment process, and therefore increase medical complexity.
Having a clear definition of what constitutes problem drinking in the elderly is difficult.
With younger adults, clear criteria are defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, including disruption of role function, financial instability, and decreasing social networks. But these criteria can be present in the older adult population at large without a substance abuse problem. Additionally, substance abuse problems are masked by other problems associated with aging, including falls, injury, confusion, self-neglect, depression, emotional liability, memory loss, sleep disturbance, and adverse drug interactions. Furthermore, an elder’s tendency to use alcohol frequently or heavily is dismissed as “the only vice she has left” or “something to help him sleep.
Are there solutions? AARP recommended this book
The National Council on Aging has a good list of solutions at the end of this article.Recommendations are made in this article but there is not one answer and this topic is obviously one that needs much more exploring by Geriatric Care Managers, who encounter this problem frequently with their aging clients.