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Assisted Living for Seniors with Alcohol Abuse History

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Assisted Living for Alcoholics & Seniors with Alcohol Abuse HistoryFinding a good assisted living community for seniors who struggle with alcohol abuse can be a difficult journey. Many seniors, as many as 28% according to a recent study, may have trouble controlling their alcohol intake. These numbers were polled only from residents of assisted living communities and retirement homes. Every facility will have different policies regarding alcohol consumption, which makes choosing the right facility even more important.

Are There Assisted Living Facilities That Allow Drinking?

Some assisted living communities will allow senior residents to smoke and drink as long as there is no mandate from a medical professional that says it is harmful to their health. In most cases, if drinking is allowed on the premises, there will be special areas for senior residents to imbibe in privacy and safety. Other locations may even allow residents to partake in alcohol in the privacy of their bedrooms. However, not all assisted living homes encourage or allow alcohol use.

If your loved one enjoys an occasional drink and is always a responsible drinker, an assisted living community that allows for alcoholic consumption may be a good fit. However, for seniors who have a problem controlling their intake or who are recovering alcoholics, it is best to find a facility that bans any form of alcohol on the premises.

Alcoholism in the Elderly

Alcohol abuse is often noticeable regardless of age, but there are many times when a person is able to function and behave in a normal manner while under the influence. When it comes to alcohol and seniors, identifying a problem may be more difficult. A senior who has a drinking problem may prove quite ingenious in obtaining alcohol if they have a strong enough urge to drink.

Elderly people, especially those who live in an assisted living facility, may not discuss the problem willingly with their doctor. Caregivers may also mistake the signs of inebriation or alcoholism with the side effects of many medications. Many seniors who suffer from disorders also have conditions that resemble alcohol addiction. This can desensitize caregivers and prevent them from recognizing the same signs in other residents who don’t share the same disorders, but in fact, are suffering from alcohol abuse. While many family members may be upfront about their loved one and any problems with alcohol, an equal number are in denial about the existence of a problem.

Alcoholism Onset in Seniors

There are many people that will live their entire lives without facing an issue with excessive drinking. As the golden years encroach and more time is available for recreation, it is easy for alcoholism to gradually develop. Some seniors may have struggled with alcohol abuse in their early years due to a genetic predisposition or other environmental factors.

Alcoholism that develops in the later years, typically after the age of retirement, is not genetic but rather environmentally triggered. Many triggers can lead to this development such as:

  • Loneliness
  • Regret
  • Stress
  • Life changes
  • Poor health
  • Remorse
  • Boredom

It is common for lack of mobility, body pain, and certain illness to contribute to the development of senior alcoholism. The lack of independence can also feed the senior alcoholism problem. As our bodies age, the ability to metabolize alcohol is diminished, and the body also reacts much differently. Seniors with memory conditions are especially susceptible to senior alcoholism and it may prevent their conditions from being properly managed.

Combating Senior Alcoholism in Assisted Living Facilities

The families of seniors struggling with alcohol addiction and the assisted living communities in which they reside will need to work together in order for the resident to thrive. The senior care home will need to have support systems in place that are paired with policies that help combat abuse or even prevent alcoholism in seniors from developing.

One way assisted living homes can combat alcoholism in seniors is by offering special programs to reduce the triggers. Assisted living homes that offer projects, planned entertainment, intense social programs and other fun activities to keep them engaged may help them resist the urge to drink. In many cases, it will be critical to consult the senior's primary physician in order to create a comprehensive treatment plan.

Most families and caregivers strive to promote the autonomy of seniors living in an assisted living facility, which is very important. Although continuing to encourage independence is critical for mental health, some restriction is required for seniors with alcohol addictions and those recovering from past alcohol abuse. Controlling the right of a senior to consume alcohol is bordering on their right to choose, which can create a complex problem for facilities and family members.

Assisted Living Options for Seniors with Alcohol Addiction

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that at least 17% of seniors that have reached the age of 60 suffer from at least one form of substance abuse. As the age of seniors increase, the percentages get even larger. For seniors, the most common form of abuse comes in two forms; prescription drug abuse and alcohol abuse. The majority of those struggling with addiction will have battled their problems for years, while a different set of seniors will have developed their addictions once they passed their golden years.

As we mentioned earlier, life-changing events and health-related problems tend to be the main catalysts for addictions developed later in life. Aside from the usual danger related to substance abuse and alcohol addiction, seniors are at a higher risk of developing health problems as a result of their lifestyle choices. As seniors age, it becomes more difficult to complete daily tasks which often leads many to transition to retirement homes or assisted living communities. These types of facilities make it easier for seniors to thrive since they will get the help they need, 24 hours a day. Seniors who are suffering from alcohol addiction or are recovering from past substance abuse face an extra challenge when choosing a long-term care solution.

Assisted living facilities are residential care communities with different admission requirements that are created for seniors who need help with daily living or those who may have a disability that makes living independently difficult. Senior housing, minor health care services, meals, personal care assistance, and community activities are some of the common amenities provided in all locations. Every assisted living home will offer the same basic services, but each will have some differences. These differences can range from special accommodations for seniors with memory conditions to a completely unique layout for seniors who are hearing impaired or those who use a wheelchair. There are also assisted living communities that cater to those who seek sobriety as well as seniors who are on dialysis. There are a wide range of assisted living communities to choose from, if you or your loved one are struggling with alcohol addiction, so it is important to choose a location that has policies in place that fit your needs.

The Benefit of Seniors with an Alcohol Addiction Residing in Assisted Living

Alcohol abuse in seniors is an issue that isn’t widely discussed. Being that it is such a taboo concern, many communities for senior care will not advertise their programs openly. In reality, many assisted living communities offer a soothing environment that is well suited to seniors battling an addiction to alcohol or recovering from a past addiction. Some benefits include:

  • Supervised Medications. Substance abuse is much harder when medications are restricted to dosed delivery. In an assisted living setting, all senior's medications will be stored in a secure location that is only accessible to the staff. Caregivers will dispense medications according to the instructions listed in the prescription for each resident. This reduces the ability of prescription medication abuse in seniors.
  • Trained Caregivers. Depending on the location, assisted living facilities may have caregivers on hand who have been trained in helping seniors who suffer from alcohol abuse or substance abuse problems. Many facilities will have a social worker or psychologist available to provide counseling and support to residents in need. This can be beneficial for seniors who may be struggling to contain their addictions or those who are not comfortable speaking to family members about their personal journey.
  • Supportive Environment for Seniors. As people age, they face many different of life-changing events. This can be as simple as losing their ability to live on their own all the way to a tragic loss of a spouse or loved one. In some cases, the life-changing event is a personal health diagnosis. All of these can cause a senior to become depressed and isolated. Seniors, like adults of any age, may choose to turn to substances such as alcohol in order to cope with drastic changes. Over time, this coping mechanism may develop into an unhealthy addiction. Assisted living communities offer seniors support, activities, and interactions to help them stay connected and present in their daily lives. This can help prevent dependence on alcohol and also help keep a senior who previously battled with addiction from returning to their old habits.
  • Senior Wellness Programs. The wellness and exercise programs for seniors are a great way to help fight the side effects of alcohol addiction. Physical activity is proven to help reduce the intensity of cravings, banish depression, and boost seniors’ overall health. Living in an assisted retirement community surrounds elderly residents with the tools they need to thrive despite their problems with alcohol. In addition to physical programs, many assisted living homes will offer transportation for seniors to rehab centers and addiction counseling meetings. These communities are geared towards helping seniors live their best life during their remaining years. Help with addiction is just one of the ways assisted living can benefit seniors.
  • Limited Access to Alcohol: Seniors that are struggling with alcohol addiction will have the advantage of controlled menus at meals. The majority of assisted living homes do not offer alcohol with meals or as a part of their regular menu. In facilities that do allow alcohol consumption, it is usually only permissible in dedicated spaces under strict staff supervision. In the event that there is a resident who has been barred from alcohol consumption by a medical professional, the staff will be aware and refuse to serve the beverage if requested. For seniors who suffer from addiction or those who are recovering from addiction, there are many assisted living communities that are completely alcohol-free. When there is no access or limited access, it will be much easier to manage an addiction.

How to Choose an Assisted Living Home for Seniors with Alcohol Abuse Issues?

No two assisted living homes will be exactly alike, so it’s important to tour several facilities and ask them questions to see which one will be a good fit. All assisted living homes will offer basic amenities such as meals, help with grooming, and medication monitoring. We have a detailed guide that goes in depth about how to choose an assisted living facility and all of the things you should look during the search process, but there are a few other things to keep in mind for seniors with alcohol addiction.

Find out if staff members at the location have been trained or hold any certifications for handling patients with addictions. Staff that is knowledgeable about what warning signs to look out for can be helpful in maintaining senior sobriety. Ask the facility if they offer on-site counseling services for seniors. This can be a general counselor or one that is specifically trained in caring for those with addiction problems. If none are available on site, ask about transportation arrangements to nearby addiction rehab or therapy centers. The policies on alcohol use are the most important factor to consider. If your loved one suffers from active addiction, it may be a good idea to choose a location that has a zero-alcohol policy. For seniors who are recovering from alcohol abuse, perhaps a less rigid, but still restricted policy will suffice. Whichever location you choose, make sure that the enrollment staff, caregivers and other personnel are aware of the restrictions on substances so that the senior will not have unauthorized access to their vice of choice.

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