Retirement Woes: Substance Abuse Among Elderly on the Rise
The study found that an estimated 10 to 17 percent of Americans aged 65 and older misuse alcohol. Retirement plays an important factor for them to indulge in substance and alcohol abuse as this phase of life brings loss of structure, identity and peer networks. Other factors like aging bodies, thought rigidness, inability to cope with new generation and such societal pressures complicate vulnerability to alcohol.
There has been a significant rise in substance abuse cases among senior citizens in the U.S., according to a New York Times report. The report says that over the last decade the rate of alcohol and drug abuse among adults aged 65 or older has more than doubled, and it is expected to rise further in the years to come. According to 2010 U.S. Census, of the 35 million seniors, 17 percent are suffering from alcohol addiction and other substance abuse.
Aging has a significant negative impact on the body if alcohol and illicit drug use is high. Peter Bamberger, Ph.D., Organizational Behavior from Cornell University and Samuel B. Bacharach Director, Institute for Workplace Studies & Smithers Institute, studied 1,100 retirement-age blue collar workers.
“It’s not surprising they’re looking for some way to self-medicate. Alcohol misuse by retirees is more complex than people think,” Bamberger said in a report by Cornell University. The findings were recorded in the book, Retirement and the Hidden Epidemic: The Complex Link Between Aging, Work Disengagement and Substance Misuse – and What To Do About It.
Older adults feel withdrawn from the society
Retirement is a process when a working professional shifts from a full-time working model to a part-time one and at times is left no option to work. As people grow, body’s tolerance level decreases and sensitivity to alcohol increases. In older persons, the body takes more time to metabolize alcohol, leading to intoxication.
Lifestyle changes and aging intensify the impact of alcohol, reducing their confidence to take decisions and cope with abuse. For an addict, emotional instability like divorce, death of a spouse, change of residence, no support from children can be few triggers in inducing addiction.
It is important to help retirees and spot the symptoms which can be the first step toward fighting the rising problem. A collaborative effort from immediate circle can help these seniors. Many do move back into the working environment with their own businesses or change careers – a trend known as “bridge employment.”
Some other ways to help out older adults can be to assist employees with their retirement plans and to encourage workplace alumni networks. Since age does not play a role in the recovery of a person, older adults can be treated like any other patient during the recovery process.
The treatment for older adults should focus on programs that would help them with direct health benefits, improve cognition, educate them about independent living, creating a social network and developing new hobbies.
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