Healthcare News & Insights

How much alcohol abuse is there in assisted living?

Heavy boozing isn’t the first problem most people think of when they consider the risks of  assisted living — but a new study indicates it should be on the shortlist. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh questioned more than 800 workers at assisted living facilities in the state about the behavior of residents in their care. The results were surprising. According to the respondents:

  • nearly 70% of assisted living residents drank alcohol
  • more than 33% drank alcohol daily
  • 12% had abused alcohol within the past three months, and
  • nearly 20% had experienced a negative impact on their health stemming from alcohol use.

Alcohol abuse, never a wise health move, can have even more serious effects in elderly patients. As we age, our tolerance declines so even a relatively small amount of alcohol can cause intoxication. And combined with other medical conditions the elderly are likely to have — and the medications they take to treat them — alcohol consumption can leave patients more vulnerable to depression, falls and accidents and any number of other mishaps or conditions.

The study’s researchers didn’t call for a ban on all booze in assisted living. But they did note that care givers (both professionals and family members) should keep the possibility of alcohol use in mind when they’re dealing with  elderly patients.

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