Recognizing Heavy Drinking This Older Americans Month
Every May, the Administration on Aging leads the nation’s observance of Older Americans Month. It’s an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the wisest generation! At Annum, we’re all about giving everyone an opportunity to stay in control of their drinking – something that can have a huge impact physical and emotional wellbeing. This topic is particularly relevant for the older population. In fact, substantial increases in alcohol consumption constitute a “public health crisis”, especially among older adults.
Heavy Drinking is Rising Disproportionately for Older Americans
It might surprise you that the frequency of bring drinking – that is, five or more standard drinks for men or four for women on a single occasion, is highest among U.S. adults aged 65 and older. And, the number of adults who engage in extremely high-risk drinking behaviors, including drinking at two or three times the “binge” threshold, has increased in the past decade – especially among older adults. These facts are cause for concern.
There are Far-Reaching Health Implications for the Older Population
There are so many reasons to turn our attention to the epidemic of heavy drinking among older Americans, to name a few of the most pressing:
Older adults who drink alcohol and who take medications are at risk for a variety of adverse consequences, depending on the amount of alcohol and the type of medications consumed.
Excessive or potentially harmful alcohol use in combination with select comorbidities or medication use, affects about 10% of elderly adults and is associated with higher mortality.
Heavy drinking is a contributor to many of the other costliest and most devastating chronic diseases that affect an aging population including: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, breast cancer and other cancers.
If you feel you could benefit from changing your relationship to alcohol, here are some proactive steps for you to start taking charge of your health:
1. Start keeping track of how much you drink.
Knowledge is power! Knowledge about how much you drink will not only increase your awareness about your drinking, but it will also help your provider determine if you meet the qualifications for alcohol use disorder or if you are at-risk. Keep in mind that “one drink” means many different things, depending on what you’re drinking. Click here to learn how to measure one “standard” drink.
2. Know your options.
Research shows alcohol use disorder can be effectively treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing and medication — and that a combination of these is can be the most effective of all.
3. Reach out to a trusted health care provider.
Whether this is your primary care provider, a therapist or a psychiatrist, make an appointment to speak with a trained health care professional you can trust.
During your appointment, be sure to do these things:
Tell them what concerns you about your drinking.
See what they think about your treatment goal – the right provider will be a true partner in your path to recovery.
Ask if they have treated heavy drinking in the past. Based on their experience and what you have shared with them, what sort of treatment plan would they suggest for you? Ask yourself: Are you on board with their plan?
Self care is so important for people of all ages. That’s why at Annum we’re focused on creating treatment for heavy drinking that is affordable and accessible for everyone.