Helping Your Aging Parent Recover from Alcoholism
Some may not consider that their parent could have an alcohol problem. But, if a couple of glasses of wine at dinner turns into a bottle or more a day, there may be a problem. What do you, as a caring son or daughter, do if this is the case?
First, make sure that there is a problem. Look for the symptoms of alcoholism. Are there unexplainable bruises and cuts? What about lost memory, irritability and isolation? Do you notice that they are consuming more alcohol? These are signs that someone is slipping into alcoholism.
The next step is to confront mom or dad. This may be a very difficult talk, and he or she may be very resistant, but it may also be necessary. While it may be uncomfortable, it is crucial to at least discuss your concerns. Be gentle and kind, never directly confrontational.
When he or she sees that there is a problem, support them. Look for treatment facilities together, visit mom or dad in the center and then help them when they get out. Your caring support is invaluable.
Some people assume that age and depression are inextricably linked, so if mom or dad has a little more to drink than they used to it is not a problem. This attitude is problematic on two levels. First, people do not necessarily become depressed when they reach a certain age. Many live happy, fulfilled lives despite the inconveniences of advancing age. But the second issue can have greater direct consequences.
Alcoholism symptoms have been preached to the public enough that most can recognize at least some of them. So Ignoring the fact that simple alcohol consumption has become a problem. When you recognize signs of alcoholism in your aging parent, it is your duty to say something. But what do you say? And how do you say it?
What does alcoholism look like in the elderly?
Aging changes some of the symptoms of alcoholism so that they are not recognizable as anything different than what one would expect to happen to someone who is getting older. For example, bruises and cuts happen because people do not see as well as they age and are more unsteady as a rule. However, if unexplained bruises and cuts become frequent, it could be a sign of alcoholism. Here are some other signs:
· Your parent shows decreased interest in being around family and friends. They isolate.
· They are often restless and often complain of about problems sleeping.
· You notice that there is always a smell of alcohol when they are around.
· Your parent gets upset easily.
· They have problems remembering common names, places or events.
Alone, these would be less of a concern. However, when these signs accumulate it may be a sign that your parent needs help to quit drinking.
How can you help?
Not many people are going to ask, “Am I an alcoholic?”; especially when they have been independent their entire adult lives and have been able to handle any stress that came their way without a problem. But remember, no matter how uncomfortable it is, you must confront the issue.
No one wants to be thought of as an alcoholic because that denotes lack of control which can be very hard for an elderly person to hear. Mom or dad definitely would not want to hear it from their son or daughter. However, they will need a support system while recovering from alcoholism and you can demonstrate how much you care by being willing to discuss the possibility.
The Next Steps
After you have talked to your mom or dad about their issues with alcohol, you need to continue to show support and assist them in the process. It is not something they will want to do on their own.
The treatment of alcoholism does not change as a person ages to any great extent, but there are some differences. What does this mean to you? It means that you need to search for alcohol treatment programs whose staff are trained to work with adult clients. What does that look like?
· Search for treatment centers together.
· Demonstrate support by visiting facilities with them.
· Have a list of questions for the staff and find the right fit.
Finding the right treatment center is essential. While there are many options you could choose from, Akua Mind & Body is of note because they pay attention to the whole individual. First they confront the issue on an individual basis, then they base a treatment plan on that person’s specific needs. Also, Akua takes a whole-body approach.
Many different means of coping with stress exist, but as an individual gets older, they may believe that they can no longer relieve stress the way they used to. Someone who was an avid jogger may be physically unable to run anymore. What about the health nut who lives on a fixed income and believes they can no longer afford nutritious food? Finding a treatment center who understands the issues of aging and adjusts the treatment plan to accommodate the individual is imperative.
You also need to show continued support by visiting your parent at the treatment facility frequently, possibly accompanying them to support meetings and continuing to demonstrate care about their progress once mom or dad returns home. You can help in many ways, but the supporter role of the treatment is your most crucial role.
For more information on the programs available at Akua Mind & Body, Please contact our 24-hour helpline at 833.258.2669 or visit www.AkuaMindBody.com