Alcoholism And The Elderly Research Paper Samples
In the early researches, scientists suggest that the consumption of alcohol decreases with age. It means the number of non-drinkers in a generation is increasing with age (Lader & Steel, 2009). Their main reason is that older people tend to change their lifestyles due to their health condition. Some people choose not to drink due to their illness or they feel that they could not drink anymore (Moore & Beck, 2002). However, there is an emerging issue that older people nowadays are relatively heavier drinkers than the younger generations. For example in England, it is estimated that there are about 1.4 million people with age 65 and above who consume alcohol which exceeds with their limit. In recent years, the number of alcohol-dependent people with age 65 and above is also increasing.
The issue is alarming in the modern times due to the increase in the population of older people which means the society is ageing. The main problem associated with the alcoholism and the elderly is about the risk to their health. Although older people relatively consume lesser alcohol, the effect of alcohol to their body is more intense (Lader & Steel, 2009). They are becoming less able to handle their consumption of alcohol than in their younger years due to physiological changes. The early findings of recent studies found out that there are social, psychological and emotional factors that contributed to the increase in the frequency of drinking of older people.
The objective of this research paper is to analyze the issue of increasing alcohol abuse of older people in the modern times. The paper also opts to evaluate the risk of alcohol abuse to the older people as well as other alcohol-related problems. Lastly, the paper opts to discuss the treatment and engagement of older people having alcohol-related problems as well as the challenges to these problems.
Why Older People have more Risk for Alcohol Abuse?
There are many factors or life changes that the old people experience which is associated with their alcohol problems. According to Wadd et al (2011), “As individuals become older, they often experience multiple losses, for example, loss of family, friends and health, and changes in role such as retirement or becoming a caregiver for an elderly partner or relative”. Older people may begin to increase their consumption of alcohol which leads to its abuse when there are several crises in their lives such as economic and health problems. In fact, almost 30 percent of the older drinkers only start their alcohol consumption in their later life.
The 70 percent of the older drinkers may develop their problem with alcohol abuse in their early life. It is also expected that the early drinkers have more tendency to have treatment for alcohol abuse than the later drinkers (Lader & Steel, 2009). The life changes that could become a factor of their alcohol abuse could be divided into three general problems. Firsts is the emotional and social problems which includes loss of love ones and friends, family conflict, bereavement, and loss of independence. Second is the health problem which includes insomnia, deficits in sensory system and reduced mobility. The last is the practical problems which include financial problems, moving to residential care and coping skills impairment (Wadd et al, 2011).
In general, there are many life changes that the old people experience which could lead to their alcohol abuse. They are very at risk with social isolation and they often drink only at their homes. According to the studies of Wadd et al (2011), the ones who care for the elderly or older people should control the amount of their alcohol consumption.
Risk of Alcohol Abuse for Older People
Alcohol abuse could be very dangerous to the older people’s social, physical and mental health. The main problem that is associated with the alcohol abuse of older people is falls which could lead to sequela or death. This is because younger people have better postural balance than the older people when they have equal amounts of blood alcohol concentration in their bodies. As people grow older, their resistance or ability to handle high blood alcohol concentration diminishes which could lead to alcohol-related falls. The public health providers became concern with the alcohol abuse of older people since the modern population is now ageing (Moore & Beck, 2002).
There are many physical health problems that could be associated with the alcohol abuse among older people. It includes hypertension, stroke, cirrhosis, cancer of the colon, and many others. These physical health problems are common to older people even without alcohol abuse. It is triggered with their high alcohol consumption since their body could not handle it. There are also more mental problems that the older people could suffer from alcohol abuse. This includes memory loss, dementia, depression, and in worst case suicide. Some social problems suffered by older people are also associated with their alcohol abuse. It includes social isolation, elder abuse, depression, falls and less satisfaction with life.
There are other practical problems that are associated with the alcohol misuse of older people such as insomnia and interactions with medications (Lader & Steel, 2009). Older people could not handle the blood alcohol level that they could contain during their younger years. Older people are also more susceptible to illness and disease even without alcohol abuse. These illnesses and diseases could be triggered by their alcohol abuse or misuse.
Treatment and Engagement of Older People Having Alcohol-Related Problems
Some studies suggest that older people could be treated more from their alcohol abuse than the younger generations. They are also having more tendencies to benefit from the treatment than the younger people. The treatment of the alcohol abuse of older people focuses on intervention and engagement to their life issues and their alcohol misuse. Finding reasons for the alcohol consumption of the older people are only the beginning of the session of intervention. The length of the intervention as well as the frequency of the sessions is very dependent to the old patient since it also depends on the specific problem of the individual. According to the studies of Wadd et al (2011), older people having treatment for their alcohol abuse usually receives care at their homes.
Some old people with alcohol abuse could be helped when they find ways to solve their health and social problems. It plays a key role in linking the older people with their alcohol services. In the engagement with an old patient having alcohol-related problems, it is better to have a good rapport. Old people should receive appropriate treatment since they are prone to social isolation due ageist attitudes (Lader & Steel, 2009).
The involvement of the family as well as social support is very beneficial for the treatment of the old people’s alcohol abuse (Moore & Beck, 2002). Most of the cases of alcohol abuse among old people are due to family conflicts and health problem. Their emotional burden could lessen if there are sufficient family involvements in their treatment and they receive much social support. Other treatment method for the alcohol abuse of the older people includes motivational counseling and cognitive behavioral approaches.
Barriers to Treatment
Alcohol related problems for older people are usually undiagnosed since most of the physicians believe that alcohol consumption declines with age (Moore & Beck, 2002). There is lack of sufficient knowledge for the practitioners about the alcohol misuse of older people nowadays. It is the main reason why some of the social care personnel could not diagnosed that their old patient is having alcohol-related problems (Wadd et al, 2011). Caring older people focuses on their health, social and mental problems (Lader & Steel, 2009). However, only few of the social care practitioners for older people have the sufficient knowledge about the link between these problems to the alcohol abuse.
Another barrier to the treatment of the alcohol abuse among older people is the elderly stereotypes. Some of the people taking care of old people have their beliefs that it is difficult to change the behavior of older people. There are also some ageist attitudes among people that could prevent the older people to receive appropriate treatment (Moore & Beck, 2002). Other difficulties of their treatment include health problems. Some of them have difficulties in walking which could be a barrier for them to attend treatment services for their alcohol abuse. They also have mental problems that could result to the difficulties in understanding those (Wadd et al, 2011).
Recommendations to Treatment
The United States Department of Health and Services recommends some of the engagement and intervention treatment method for the older people having alcohol-related problems (Lader & Steel, 2009). The main information that the social care practitioners should acquire from the older patient is their reason for drinking. In most cases, the treatment method for the older people having alcohol-related problems involves treating their health, social and mental problems. It is followed by providing enough reasons for cutting down or stopping the older people’s alcohol consumption (Moore & Beck, 2002). Some social care practitioners also provide social opportunities which do not involves drinking alcohol such as hobbies and volunteer activities. These activities could help them overcome their tendencies to have social isolation.
It is better for the social care practitioners to avoid elderly stereotypes. They should be skilled in challenging these stereotypes as well as establishing a good rapport. Family support should be always given if possible in order to remove the difficulties in understanding the older people. Linking their alcohol abuse to their social, physical and mental problems is very crucial for analyzing the treatment method to be used (Moore & Beck, 2002).
It is believed that alcohol consumption declines with age but there is an emerging issue that alcoholism is becoming common to old people. It is a large issue in the modern times due to the ageing society. Alcohol abuses among older people are more risky since it could result to alcohol-related problems. It includes social, mental and physical health problems. The main treatment method for the alcohol abuse among older people includes engagement, intervention and motivational sessions. However, some barriers to this treatment are also providing difficulties in treating the older patients. The issue of alcoholism among elderly should be a public issue since the population of the people with age 65 and above is increasing.
Lader, D. & Steel, M. (2009). Drinking: Adult's Behaviour and Knowledge in 2009. Newport, Office for National Statistics.
Moore, A., & Beck, J. (2002). Beyond Alcoholism: Identifying Older, At-Risk Drinkers in Primary Care. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 63: 316-324.
Wadd, S., Lapworth, K., Sullivan, M., Forrester, D., & Galvani, S. (2011). Working with Older Drinkers. University of Bedfordshire.
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