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The Hidden Epidemic: Drinking Habits of Baby Boomers Are Being Carried Into Retirement

“In a July 2019 article from Time Magazine, a new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that, from 2015-2017, more than 10% of adults 65 and older said they had binge drank—defined as consuming five or more drinks in one sitting for men, or four or more for women— in the past month, up from about 7% in 2006. That’s in keeping with other studies that have charted increases in excessive drinking among elderly adults, including one that pointed to a 65% increase in high-risk drinking in this population from 2001 to 2013.” (Time Magazine credit below)

This  hidden epidemic is the cause of many medical problems and fatal falls.  As our baby boomer generation ages it is imperative to raise awareness of the dangers associated with alcohol consumption.  It is a delicate topic to address.  We must be cognizant of and appreciate our loved one’s desire for continued independence.  Nevertheless, avoiding the topic of alcohol abuse does a disservice to our senior population.

 

Building Awareness through Presenting the Facts

 

Reach out to the resources around you.  Often times, senior living communities have speakers come in to talk about  various subjects from history to art.  The program directors can access health care professionals to make presentations to their residents in an effort to educate and build awareness.  Approaching the program directors with a request to educate residents about the hazards of alcohol may be one way you can reach your elderly loved one who may have a drinking problem.

 

You can also contact your loved one’s physicians.  Even if your parents won’t give the doctor the go-ahead to speak with you, you can still share your concerns, preferably by email so that the doctor can reference the paper record. But, without the HIPAA form (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), the doctor won’t be able to discuss his findings with you.  Geriatricians are well aware that research shows that about 40% of people over 65 drink.

 

Dangers  Associated with Alcohol Consumption Specific to Seniors

                 Aging actually lowers the body’s tolerance for alcohol.  These are just some ways that health is affected

  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Blood clots, stroke, cardiomyopathy and heart attack caused by weakened heart and ability to pump blood
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Poor balance, dizziness and resulting falls leading to injury and death
  • Many prescription drugs affect the liver. Adding alcohol increases liver damage
  • Increased chance of breast cancer and cancers of the digestive system
  • Pancreatitis
  • Numbness in extremities from damage to central nervous system
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Diabetes complications
Conclusion

The more we share and talk about this hidden epidemic, the safer the world and in particular, the “boozing baby boomers” will be.  Bringing things to light and out into the open makes people think twice about their habits.

For further information regarding the information in this article:

https://www.americangeriatrics.org/sites/default/files/inline-files/GWEP%202019%20Substance%20Use%20%26%20Misuse%20Among%20Older%20Adults_0.pdf

https://time.com/5638643/older-adults-binge-drinking/

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/death-alcohol-more-people-are-dying-drinking-too-much-n1111951

https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/news/20151202/seniors-alcohol-drugs-addiction#1

https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2017/alcohol-abuse-boomers-binge-drinking.html

 

For more by Virginia Tortorici, click here.

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