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Sociological Perspectives of Alcohol Abuse in the Elderly - Term Paper Example

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Sociological Perspectives of Alcohol Abuse in the Elderly

“Some studies have found that about two thirds of elderly alcoholics began heavy drinking prior to the age of 60, with the remaining one third beginning drinking heavily after the age of 60” (Susic, 1999). Factors that trigger changes in life of the late onset group, thus leading it to alcohol abuse include but are not limited to death of a loved one, retirement, health problems, sleep impairment, loss of the source of income, and problems with relationships. Elderly people experience different kinds of medical, psychosocial, and sociological consequences of alcohol abuse that are explored in this paper. Some of the effects commonly experienced by the elderly people with alcohol abuse include depression, chronic illnesses, social exclusion, and unemployment. Medical effects of alcohol abuse on elderly people Elderly people that do alcohol abuse experience all types of dementia except for the Alzheimer’s disease more frequently than those who do not (Thomas and Rockwood, 2001). Owing to the complexity of the relationship between dementias and alcohol use, the reasons for this are not fully known as of now (Dar, 2006). Alcohol abuse is a cause of acquisition of the cognitive deficits among the elderly people. In the study conducted by George et al. (1991), the prevalence of disorders caused by alcohol abuse in the people over 55 years of age was found to be 1.5 times greater in the people having cognitive impairment as compared to people that had no cognitive impairment at all. Elderly have a higher absorption rate of alcohol as compared to the young, their levels of blood alcohol are higher as compared to those of the young when both consume the same amount of alcohol. As a result of this, elderly alcohol abusers experience more intense intoxication by consuming a certain volume of alcohol as compared to the young drinkers. Many complications of alcohol abuse in the elderly drinkers results because of the use of the over-the-counter medications. According to an estimate, the amount of money spent yearly on medications by the elderly is more than $500 million (OASAS, n.d.). Over-the-counter medicines, both when used alone and in combination with alcohol, can cause serious consequences to result. For instance, laxatives can lead to chronic diarrhea, that can cause the imbalance of sodium and potassium in the body, thus setting the stage for irregularities of heart rhythm. When alcohol and medications are frequently combined in the blood stream, it can lead to serious adverse consequences. For example, the reduce flow of blood to the kidneys and the liver causes a drop in the rate of metabolism of certain medications by 50 per cent. Medicines like diazepam and chlordiazepoxide cause prolonged sedation in the elderly because of their prolonged half lives sometimes ranging over days that that drastically increase an individual’s risk of fall and fracture when combined with alcohol’s sedative effects. Many elderly people tend to take overdose of medicine because of their confusion or loss of memory, which can sometimes lead to death. Another significant problem in the elderly people is dependence on nicotine because of their boredom and addiction. Use of nicotine in the early life causes mortality and morbidity in the late years. Psychosocial effects of alcohol abuse on elderly people Alcohol misuse increases an individual’ ...Show more
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Summary

Sociological Perspectives of Alcohol Abuse in the Elderly Introduction Alcohol abuse is a hidden national epidemic among the elderly in many countries around the world in general and the US in particular, where at least 17 per cent of the adult population over 65 years of age has problems of alcohol abuse (OASAS, n.d.)…
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