The aging process presents a number of challenges to individuals as they grow older, and as a result, many older adults will turn to alcohol as a means of self-medication. Unfortunately, alcohol abuse is widely under-recognized in seniors, so it is rarely met with the appropriate care and treatment. Below, you can learn about some of the signs of alcohol abuse in seniors, which is often treatable through a dual-diagnosis strategy to address both alcohol consumption and related mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, or dementia.
Reduced Interest in Social Activities
After the loss of a spouse or transition to an assisted care facility, seniors may feel isolated even when they are around other people. In these situations, alcohol consumption may seem like a source of comfort, though interest in social interaction may continue to decline as alcohol abuse becomes a more significant problem.
Defensive or Aggressive Behaviors
Making excuses or taking on a defensive attitude is a tell-tale sign of substance abuse at any age, so you should not ignore these behaviors if you observe them in an elderly loved one. Some older adults may also feel the need to hide their alcohol consumption by keeping a stash of alcoholic beverages hidden in the home.
Increased Alcohol Consumption during Family Events
Older adults may not always work to hide their alcohol use, so you may notice that an older loved one will consume multiple drinks during holidays and other family gatherings. While the occasional drink is not much to worry about, drinking three or more alcoholic beverages in a single gathering may be the sign of a bigger problem in an older relative.
Alcohol may have negative reactions with certain prescription medications, causing significant health problems that may lead to frequent illness or even hospitalization. Plus, alcohol can have a stronger effect on older adults, leading to health problems when prescription medications are not a factor.
If you suspect that an elderly loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, you can find the right approach to care with RISE Behavioral Health at Southern Hills Hospital. This dedicated mental health unit caters exclusively to patients 50 and older with inpatient and outpatient programs to meet the needs of your loved one. Learn more about how our services can help your older relatives fight alcohol abuse by calling us at (702) 880-2100 today.