I was in a grocery store a few months ago, standing in line behind an elderly man who lifted a case of beer, several bottles of wine, a fifth of bourbon and a fifth of gin onto the counter. The grocery checker cheerfully commented, "It looks like you're having a party." The man became indignant and replied, "This will last me all week!" The checker and I just looked at each other. It was a tremendous amount of alcohol for anyone to drink in a week!
Help for Alcoholic Baby Boomers is Available!
According to the website, SeniorsInSobriety.org, the disease of alcoholism affects as many as 10% of all people over the age of 60. They refer to alcohol abuse in the elderly as an "invisible or hidden epidemic." Frequently, alcoholism is mistaken for other health problems, such as dementia. It can contribute to depression, anxiety, heart disease, liver disease and cancer. According to the SeniorsInSobriety.org website, 70% of hospitalized seniors have a problem with alcohol. Shockingly, many doctors and hospital administrators do not even ask their patients about this.
What is even more serious is the fact that many seniors themselves are unaware of how dangerous it can be, as they age, to continue to drink the way they did in their younger years, especially if they are combining their drinking with over-the-counter and prescription medications. Alcohol reacts badly with at least 150 different medications.
As a resident of an over-55 retirement community, I see the effects of alcohol abuse at nearly every community party we attend. At times I have felt as if I am attending college parties, rather than events for senior citizens. I have seen my peers become drunk, loud, and aggressive; I have seen them stumble and fall into tables; I have seen them drop their bottles of bourbon in the parking garage. One reason why some seniors are reluctant to move into assisted living facilities, even when they desperately need to, is because they are afraid it will be more difficult for them to obtain alcohol.
If you have an elderly relative who may be abusing alcohol, help is available. They may need to go to a treatment center, or begin attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous. The physicians who prescribe their medication should be informed of their problem with alcohol. Don't turn a blind eye to this problem; alcohol abuse may already be shortening their life.
I already know of one neighbor who is dying from liver cancer ... yet she continues to drink champagne every evening, while undergoing chemotherapy twice a month. It is so sad to see the consequences of her drinking problem.
You and your loved ones do not need to be the next victim of this debilitating disease.
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