New Publication: “Older Adults and Alcohol: You Can Get Help”
"Older Adults and Alcohol: You Can
Get Help" is a new, easy-to-read booklet from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Written for older adults and their families, friends, and caregivers, this publication answers questions and provides ways to find help.
Waring: Talking about drinking is not always easy, especially with loved ones who, as they get older, may become more sensitive to alcohol. Dr. Marie Bernard, Deputy Director of the National Institute on Aging, explains how an alcohol problem in an older individual may be hard to recognize.
Bernard: It's a hidden problem because many times people have continued to drink as they did when they were younger and they don't recognize that it's a problem. It'll present with falls, or may present with problems with memory; and they think, their family thinks, even their doctor thinks, that it's related to some of the problems that occur with aging. And in actuality if they modify their alcohol intake, those things might be less problematic.
Waring: A new publication from the National Institute on Aging and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, entitled "Older Adults and Alcohol: You Can Get Help," explains how heavy drinking can make some health problems worse, and how alcohol and medicines don't mix. Again, Dr. Bernard:
Bernard: It's a nice, concise summary of challenges that older individuals may face with alcohol abuse. It's written at a very friendly level. You don't have to have a college degree to be able to read it. It has really good tips. It talks about the things that an older individual needs to look at in him or herself that might suggest that they have an alcohol problem. It provides a nice little checklist and gives some suggestions as to how to go about changing behavior if they do find that they have a problem. It provides recommendations to caregivers or family members as well.
Waring: Recommendations include how to talk about your worries when your loved one is sober, how to offer support, and how to support yourself, as well. The publication also highlights that it's important to stay away from labels like "alcoholic."
Bernard: Again, it is a hidden problem. Health care professionals as well as the public aren't necessarily sensitized to it, so one needs to think about it; one needs to recognize that if you're able to drink two glasses of wine each evening when you were younger, you may not be able to do that as you're older. And there's no shame associated with it. It's something that you simply need to try to address.
Waring: Dr. Bernard emphasizes that "Older Adults and Alcohol: You Can Get Help" is an excellent tool to help people talk with their doctors about their concernsBernard: I was a practicing academic geriatrician for the last 20 years and having a booklet such as this would have been very helpful with my patients.
Waring: To download or order free copies of "Older Adults and Alcohol: You Can Get Help," look up the publication at the NIA home page, www.nia.nih.gov, or call the NIA Information Center toll-free at 1-800-222-2225. This is Belle Waring, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.