Lately, alcoholism has become a critical problem among elderly women in America. A habit that was previously considered a male disorder has now taken even elderly women into its clutches. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of the elderly women who have a chronic drinking problem seek treatment for their addiction, thus giving rise to a “hidden epidemic.”
While there are a number of factors preventing elderly women from seeking treatment for their alcohol addiction, social stigma seems to be the most common issue faced by the elderly group. No one expects an older woman to hit the bottle on the sly since it is an unacceptable behavior among women of this age group. This disparity is the leading cause of the prevailing problems faced by women who have a substance abuse problem.
Another factor responsible for alcoholism and risky drinking patterns among elderly women is social isolation. With rapid globalization, children no longer stay with their elderly parents or grandparents, leaving them alone without encouragement and support. Complicating the situation further is the fact that many health care professionals tend to overlook signs of alcoholism in the elderly, thinking that they are normal problems that often accompany the process of aging
Risky drinking in elderly women
The ill effects of alcohol are visible early in women than in men. Studies have shown that when women of average weight and size drink one unit of alcohol, the effect on her body will be equivalent to two drinks for men with an average size and body mass index (BMI). The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is also higher in women due to their slower metabolism rate.
In older women, the dangers of alcohol abuse are more potent and life threatening. With aging, both men and women have diminished abilities to cope with alcohol. Their liver is unable to metabolize alcohol as fast as it did during their young age. Listed below are some of the dangerous effects of frequent alcohol use among the elderly women:
Depression: The elderly have slower rates of metabolism as compared to the younger generation. Therefore, the young are able to withstand the ill effects of alcohol in a better way than older adults. Since toxins from alcohol continue to exist in the body of the elderly for quite a long time, even moderate drinking can result in harmful side effects. Those who are prone to heavy or binge drinking have an increased risk of suffering from mental disorders like depression.
Falls: Abusing alcohol increases the risk of falls among elderly women. As most elderly women already have poor bone health, falls could cause them to become bedridden. Alcohol can also steadily deplete the calcium reserves of bones.
Poor heart health: Binge drinking can cause immense harm to the heart, especially in case of elderly women. It makes the muscles of the heart rigid and thicker, resulting in scarring. According to Dr. Scott Solomon, Harvard Medical School, “Women appear more susceptible than men to the cardiotoxic effects of alcohol, which might potentially contribute to a higher risk of alcohol cardiomyopathy (heart damage linked to alcohol) for any given level of alcoholic intake.”
Breast cancer: The risk of breast cancer is quite high in elderly women. According to previous studies, an overwhelming 75 percent new breast cancer cases are diagnosed in women above the age of 50. Elderly women with an alcohol abuse problem are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer in the long run.
Road to recovery
Binge drinking is not just a problem associated with youngsters. Even elders are equally guilty of indulging in this practice to cope with depression, anxiety, as well as social isolation. It has been observed that elders who binge drink once a month are at the risk of high mortality.
If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol abuse, get in touch with the Alcohol Addiction Get Help to know about various alcohol addiction treatment centers in your vicinity. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-281-3014 or chat online with our representatives who can share details about the best alcohol addiction treatment centers in U.S.A.