Q.: My 76-year-old widowed father has always enjoyed socializing and that means parties where alcohol is served. It seems that he is drinking more and I am concerned.
I'm worried about his drinking, especially as the holiday season approaches, when there will be more opportunities. Should I be?
A.: As a matter of fact, older adults who have alcohol dependence problems drink significantly more than do younger adults who have similar problems, a new study from Ohio State University has revealed. Those older than 60 drink more alcohol per drinking session and have more binge episodes than younger Americans.
Researchers found that adults older than 60 who have alcohol dependence drink more than 40 alcoholic drinks a week on average, compared with between 25 and 35 drinks a week on average for those in younger age groups with similar problems.
In addition, older people with alcohol dependence have more binge drinking episodes per month than do their younger counterparts.
The findings suggest that older problem drinkers may have developed a tolerance for alcohol and need to drink even more than younger abusers to achieve the effects they seek.
"A combination of high levels of drinking and the physiological effects of aging are particularly problematic for older adults," said Linda Ginzer, co-author of the study and a doctoral student in social work at Ohio State.
Research has shown that Americans generally tend to drink less alcohol as they age. But these findings suggest that for certain groups of older adults - those with alcohol problems - alcohol use actually increases, Ginzer said.
Why not talk with your father about your concerns. You could start the conversation with, "Dad, I think it's great that you have a social life, but I've noticed that you've gradually been drinking more, especially during the holidays. I'm concerned about your health and safety, and that of others. Can we talk about ways that we can ensure that you are OK?"
Home Instead Senior Care has a program called The 40-70 Rule, which provides help for talking with your adult parent about sensitive subjects. For more information, log on to www.4070talk.com.
DeLauter is the owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Lewisburg, which serves Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Lycoming, Clinton, Montour and Columbia counties.
For more information, contact DeLauter at 522-6533 or visit www.homeinstead.com.