Caregiver's Home Companion Free captioning phone for those with hearing loss.
 SEARCH Go
Read Fred's Previous Articles

April 6, 2012
Question for Aging Men: Will Testosterone Spark Virility?


March 30, 2012
Is Dad Still Road-Worthy – Or Is It Time to Take the Keys?


March 23, 2012
Coping and Recovering from Knee Replacement


March 16, 2012
Lactose Intolerance May Not Spell Osteoporosis


Take Our PollThe Caregiver's Marketplace

Shop Now in the
Caregiver's e-Mall

Our Caregiver's e-Mall is filling up with great stores and a growing number of items just in time for the holidays. Whether you browse and find a book or tape to help you with caregiving, or come across a wonderful gift for a friend or family member, the e-Mall can be your source for easy shopping and gift-giving.

So, click on the dark blue Caregiver's e-Mall buttons throughout our site and enter a comfortable, secure shopping experience with major merchants while avoiding the hassle of having to find a parking place or matching your shopping hours with someone else's. Our mall is just a click away and is open 24 hours every day.

Watch for additional stores opening in the e-Mall soon!

Posted: November 06, 2009

Keeping Seniors Healthy

Seniors Who Drink Face Many Dangers

Q.  My wife and I moved into a retirement community recently. I’ve noticed a lot of people I’d call alcoholics in this community. Do seniors drink more in these places?

A. I could find no information that demonstrated residents of retirement communities drink more. However, these communities are, by nature, more social. So, perhaps you’re just seeing more drinking. And with more drinking, you’ll find more people who don’t handle it well.

Alcoholism is a serious problem among seniors. Here are just a few statistics that tell the story:

About 70% of hospital admissions for older adults are for illness and accidents related to alcohol.

About half of older adults in nursing homes have an alcohol problem.

Older adults lose an average of 10 years off their lives because of alcohol abuse.

About 80% of doctors misdiagnose alcoholism as depression in older women.

The highest growing number of alcoholics is among 75-year-old widowers.

About 10% of patients over age 60 who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease are actually suffering from brain damage caused by alcoholism.

“Alcohol abuse among older adults is something few want to talk about or deal with,” said Charles Curie, former administrator of the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Too often, family members are ashamed of the problem and choose not to address it. Health care providers tend not to ask older patients about alcohol abuse if it wasn’t a problem in their lives in earlier years. Sometimes the symptoms are mistaken for those of dementia, depression, or other problems common to older adults. Unfortunately, too many older persons turn to alcohol as a comfort, following the death of a spouse, a divorce, retirement, or some other major life change, unaware that they are markedly affecting the quality of their lives.”

A few definitions:

Alcoholism is a disease with four symptoms: craving or compulsion to drink, the inability to limit drinking, high alcohol tolerance, and physical dependence.

Alcohol abuse does not include strong craving, loss of control or physical dependence. Alcohol abuse is defined as drinking that causes problems in your life such as failing at work, getting arrested for drunk driving, hurting someone physically or emotionally because of drinking.

Moderate drinking is defined as consuming up to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women and older people. A standard drink is 12 ounces beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.

The American Medical Association publishes the following list of physical symptoms to diagnose alcoholism. If an older person shows several symptoms, there is a high probability of alcoholism.

  • Bruises, abrasions, and scars in locations that might suggest frequent falls, bumping into objects, physical altercations, or other violent behavior.
  • Cigarette burns on the fingers.
  • Flushed or florid faces.
  • Jerky eye movement or loss of central vision.
  • Damage to nerves causing numbness and tingling.
  • Hypertension, particularly systolic (the first number).
  • Gastrointestinal or other bleeding.
  • Cirrhosis or other evidence of liver impairment, such as swelling in the lower extremities, and other signs of fluid retention.
  • Psoriasis.


Fred Cicetti is a freelance writer who specializes in health. He has been writing professionally since 1963. Before he began freelancing, he was a reporter and columnist for three daily newspapers in New Jersey. He has written two published novels: Saltwater Taffy, and Local Angles. You can send your health-related questions to Fred at fred@healthygeezer.com.

© 2009 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.
Search CaregiversHome
Find with keyword(s):

Enter a keyword or phrase to search CaregiversHome's archives for related news topics, the latest news stories, timely times, and reference articles.

Email or share this story Bookmark and Share

Back to Top


Prescription Card

Free Survival Guide

Privacy Statement Contact Us Site Map Products & Services Our Partners Advertise
© Copyright 2003-2019. Pederson Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.