“Boomers on a Bender” – Older Adults & Harmful Alcohol Use

Boomers on a Bender is the cover story in the May/June 2017 issue of Today’s Geriatric Medicine magazine that reports on the dramatic increases in harmful alcohol use by older adults. Aimed at medical providers, the article details the alarming increase in both binge drinking and alcohol use disorders (AUD) among adults aged 65 and older. Doctors are urged to screen and identify unhealthy alcohol use by their older patients, and to discuss the risks of continued use and the options available to stop drinking for those with the problem.

The Council on Recovery wholeheartedly agrees.

However, as access to and delivery of medical care has become more challenging than ever, screening for AUD in older patients remains infrequent, according to studies cited in the article. While physicians continue to face a myriad of difficult issues related to managing medical care, there are resources available for helping doctors both screen patients for AUD and effectively communicate with those patients about alcohol. One such resource is the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), which offers multiple online resources for providers, such as brochures, fact sheets, alert bulletins, classroom resources, and videocasts. NIAAA’s website also provides the general public with information related to alcohol abuse among older adults.

In Houston, The Council on Recovery’s Wellderly program provides information and resources to help older adults, their family members, caregivers, and service providers identify and address alcohol and substance use and/or misuse. The Wellderly program’s unique suite of services include:

  • Community education and outreach to older adults and service providers
  • Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)
  • Case management
  • Specific help and guidance in talking with an older adult who has questions about their own substance use or a friend’s use of substances
  • Education and support for family members
  • Educational materials that aid older adults in taking better care of themselves

The Wellderly Program is supported by funding from The United Way of Greater Houston. For more information about the Wellderly Program please call 281.200.9109 or email wellderly@councilonrecovery.org.