The Hidden Epidemic
Alcoholism is a progressive and lethal disease that affects up to 10% of people over the age of sixty. It has typically been under estimated, under identified, under diagnosed, and under treated in our country and world wide.
Today, we are seeing an alarming increase in the numbers of seniors being recognized as alcoholic. This increase is in part attributable to our longer life expectancy, the aging of our population, and a greater recognition of alcoholism among our senior citizens.
“Alcohol abuse in the elderly is an Invisible or Hidden Epidemic. It is often mistaken for other conditions associated with the aging process, particularly depression. As part of routine care, it is recommended that health care providers discuss alcohol use with their older patients.
Family members should become as familiar with the drinking habits of Great Uncle Harry or Grandma Jane as they are with their medical conditions. They need to be aware that over the counter drugs, prescription medications, and herbal remedies in seniors can be dangerous, or even fatal, when mixed with alcohol.
There are many elders that alcohol has robbed of hope, dignity, and the ability to cope. With treatment, the alcoholic has an opportunity to develop a satisfying way of life free from alcohol and become happily and usefully whole.”