Myths about older adults…

Let’s look at some of the most common myths and misconceptions about addiction in older adults or seniors.
 
It’s his last pleasure. Let him drink. Addiction is never pleasurable.  Addiction is a thief, robbing older adults of their relationships with children, grandchildren, and friends; stealing their dignity and health; and taking away the many gifts they richly deserve in their golden years. The true joy of lfe returns when addicted older adults regain their freedom through sobriety.
 
The problem is temporary. She drinks to deal with her grief (loneliness, insomnia, etc). People drink for many different reasons. Drinking to solve problems is always unhealthy. Alcohol only masks the problem and prevents people from implementing solutions. If the drinking stops, the problem still exists. Sometimes the drinking doesn’t stop; it takes on a life of its own. This is called alcoholism, and the older adult now drinks to satisfy the addiction.
 
My mother’s too old to change. Older adults have the highest success rate in treatment of any age group. Believing people of a certain age cannot recover is a form of “ageism,” or prejudice against older populations.
 
It’s unlikely someone my grandfather’s age will become addicted to alcohol or other drugs. Addiction doesn’t discriminate based on age. The aging body is more susceptible to the effects of drugs, which may cause addiction to occur more quickly. The fastest growing number of alcoholics is among 75 year old widowers.
 
You can’t help someone until he wants help. Most addicted older adults die before reaching out for help on their own. The question to ask is, “What will get him to want help?” The answer may be a loving family intervention. A survey of recovering people found that 70% accepted treatment after family members or friends intervened.
 
Challenge the myths you’ve accepted as fact and ask your relatives to do the same. Together, a change in your thinking, may lead to a huge change in your older relative’s life.