Alcohol abuse and the elderly

a glass containing an alcoholic drink which is brown in colour Alcohol abuse and the elderly is a subject that greatly interest me.

We hear time and time again about binge drinking in teenagers and the danger of  regular home drinking for the middle aged but what about our elderly drinkers?.When does drinking become alcohol abuse?

With many elderly people taking prescription medications which may cause drowsiness and a degree of cognitive impairment, surely mixing this with alcohol is a disaster waiting to happen?

One of my clients has a huge gin and tonic when she gets up in the morning and she says it sets her up for the day. She also takes the anti-depressant Amitriptyline. She does however not worry if she doesn’t have another drink that day.

Another couple always have a drink before 11am when I am there and I am not convinced occasionally drive under the influence.

So why do elderly people abuse alcohol and what is the difference between consume and abuse?.

Many elderly people live in isolation and many consume alcohol for comfort. The loss of a spouse leaves an enormous gap and alcohol often numbs the pain.

Many drink to dull physical pain too, when painkillers don’t work effectively.

The occasional drink is considered to be acceptable but to drink regularly and heavily to mask either emotional or physical pain is seen as alcohol abuse.

The consumption of alcohol alongside medication also greatly increases the risk of falls in the elderly.


Award-winning blogger and care columnist for Devon Life magazine, Caron also campaigns for recognition of the needs elderly people and their carers. Designer and creator of the award-winning Dementia Assistance Cards which are free to all, and helping thousands of people globally Caron is passionate and committed to making a difference

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