A new study reveals that grandparents are drinking too much. Alcohol consumption among seniors in the United States it increased especially among men 65 years and older, now more than 15% of that population is on the verge of alcoholism.
The analysis published on December 8 covers the period from 2015 to 2019. But experts believe that the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened this scenario. A survey conducted by the Nielsen agency revealed that alcohol sales in the early days of social distancing skyrocketed: 55% more than in the same period in 2019. And the trend has continued throughout almost two years of pandemic.
The University of California San Diego Division of Geriatrics study included 18,794 adults 65 years and older who participated in the 2015-2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Excessive alcohol consumption was defined as 5 or more drinks on the same occasion for men, and 4 or more drinks for women.
Men in that age group drink more than women of that age, according to the survey. Interestingly, more educated women tend to drink more alcohol, and the same is true for divorced or separated men.
The impact on older adults
Alcohol can act differently in older people than in younger people. Some older adults can feel somewhat drunk without increasing the amount of alcohol they drink. This can put them at higher risk for accidents, including falls and fractures and car accidents.
Also, older women are more sensitive than men to the effects of alcohol.
Drinking too much alcohol for a long time can:
- Lead to some types of cancer, liver damage, immune system disorders, and brain damage
- Worsen some health conditions such as osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, ulcers, memory loss, and mood disorders.
- Make some medical problems difficult to find and treat; for example, alcohol causes changes in the heart and blood vessels. These changes can lessen pain that could be a warning sign of a heart attack.
- It can also cause forgetfulness and confusion in some older people – these symptoms can be mistaken for signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition, alcohol can interact with medications to treat conditions that often come with age, for example, if adpirin is consumed and drunk, the risk of intestinal or stomach bleeding is increased. Some of these combinations, for example alcohol with medicines to treat psychiatric disorders, can be lethal.
Alcohol and COVID
Generally, people take in social events, as a way to connect with friends and family, to celebrate. They talk around a bottle. Or at home, after a long day at work, to relax.
At the beginning of the quarantine they organized happy hours By Zoom or Skype, it was toasted with friends at a distance. Even now that you drive less you don’t have to think twice.
But as the weeks of confinement accumulated, what began as a way to relax may, for some, begin to feel like a habit that is difficult to avoid or control.
Alerts and resources
To attack the problem in time, there are alerts to be aware of, which include:
- A very large increase in the amount of alcohol consumed
- Friends and family beginning to worry
- Changes in sleep patterns: you fall asleep more or less than usual
- When drinking starts to interfere with everyday life
The Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a 24/7 helpline (800-662-HELP) and a website, http://www.findtreatment.gov, that offers referrals for treatment of addictions
Addiction treatment experts have long offered telemedicine sessions to help people control this urge. The resource is extremely useful in these times of pandemic and quarantine. The National Institute of Abuse Alcohol and Alcoholism has a browser that can help you find these services in your area.
Support groups have proven to be very effective in being able to talk to peers about the problem. Knowing that you are not alone on this journey to control is important.
And even on the platform of the institute there is a website that helps you rethink the habit, if you have never had a problem with alcohol, but now you feel that you are derailing.