Elderly Alcoholism Intervention Hood River OR

The Golden Years do not come gently into our lives and unfortunately we may not be prepared for it. Suddenly we find ourselves retired from our jobs and we must prepare ourselves for a new way of life. Many of us have hobbies. Some people volunteer to work for organizations. Many relocate away from family and friends and swear that they are off to experience a new way of life.

Providence Gorge Counseling and
(541) 387-6138
814 13th Street
Hood River, OR

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Dependency Hlth Services White Salmon
(509) 493-3400
251 Rhine Village Drive
White Salmon, WA

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Crossroads
(541) 296-9805
414 Washington Street
The Dalles, OR

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Crossroads Behavioral Health
(509) 427-7100
77 SW Russel Avenue
Stevenson, WA

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Milestones Family Recovery Program
(541) 753-2230
306 SW 8th Street
Corvallis, OR

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Mid Columbia Center for Living
(541) 386-2620
1610 Woods Court
Hood River, OR

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Mid Columbia Center for Living
(541) 296-5452
419 East 7th Street
The Dalles, OR

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Skamania County Counseling Center
(509) 427-3850
683 SW Rock Creek Drive
Stevenson, WA

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Barton, Serena
(971) 404-7664
1210 SE Oak St. Suite 2
Portland, OR

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Her Place
(503) 363-2021
1137 25th Street NE
Salem, OR

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Road to Recovery: The Elderly and Alcoholism

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Road to Recovery: The Elderly and Alcoholism

Carol Greenberg

Friday, September 14, 2007 Perhaps, the most difficult thing for people of advanced years to do is to give up an old habit. That habit of drinking too much alcohol. It may have started out as a cocktail or two before dinner followed with a glass of wine with dinner and maybe a brandy before bedtime but now that we find ourselves in the Golden Years and with time on our hands the drinking may have increased and we have become alcoholics. Of course, we would never admit it. We stay in denial until well meaning friends or family members tell us that we drink too much. Naturally, we become defensive and sometimes very nasty and tell them to mind their own business. This attitude has divided families and chased away friends.

The Golden Years do not come gently into our lives and unfortunately we may not be prepared for it. Suddenly we find ourselves retired from our jobs and we must prepare ourselves for a new way of life. Many of us have hobbies. Some people volunteer to work for organizations. Many relocate away from family and friends and swear that they are off to experience a new way of life. Others stay at home, become depressed, or too ill to contemplate a change. Illness, doctors, a lack of family involvement, and the horror of facing death can be the cause of many cases of depression. And, depression can lead to drowning one's sorrows in that bottle of alcohol.

Mildred B., a seventy year old grandmother, thought she was handling her retirement well. She volunteered at the library, walked her dog, and enjoyed preparing her own meals. Every evening she would prepare a Martini and eat dinner watching TV. As time passed she began to have two Martinis and then three and would skip dinner entirely. Her children noticed her mood swings and became worried when they would call and she would ramble over the phone. They knew that she had been drinking but did not know how to stop her. Finally, one night, after she had too much she fell asleep in her chair and when suddenly awakened, stood up, fell and broke her hip.

This is not an unusual story. I spoke to Dr. James Kohl, an orthopedist, who told me that many of his elderly patients come to his office with fractures, broken bones, or worse, and the first thing he asks them if they are alcoholics. If they deny it he gives them a written test prepared by John Hopkins University. He confirmed that blackouts are common among alcoholics, especially the elderly. He said, although many people can drink socially and in moderation, as we age, that ability diminishes, though few of us realize it. Our motor skills naturally decrease, and the risk of falling increases. Many seniors, for example take medications for high blood pressure, heart disease and more. Mixing alcohol with those medications can be lethal.

I also interviewed Dr. Sharon Richter, a certified addictions counselor, who explained that much of the alcohol problem to the m...

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