Signs & Symptoms of Abuse in Older Adults
Could Your Loved One Have a Drug or Alcohol Problem?
Addiction to alcohol or drugs often goes unnoticed in an older person. Some of the signs of aging can be similar to signs of possible substance abuse. Medications that many older people take may mask or mimic substance abuse symptoms. Older people generally also drink or take drugs at home. If they are retired, there is no one at a workplace to notice symptoms of substance abuse.
Yet substance abuse is a serious problem for older people. The health consequences are more serious, from increased chances of falling to harmful medication interactions.
Substance abuse may be more likely to occur after a life change, such as retirement, the death of a loved one, or being diagnosed with a serious or debilitating illness.
These are possible signs of substance abuse to be aware of and investigate:
- Altered liver function
- Changes in mental abilities
- Changes in eating habits, particularly not eating as much
- Decline in personal cleanliness
- Drinking in spite of warning labels on prescription drugs
- A fall
- Fatigue or weakness
- Increased confusion
- Lapses in memory
- Loss of friends or not staying in regular touch
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Marital problems
- Memory impairment
- Mood swings
- Not being oriented to date, time and place
- Panic attacks
- Problems sleeping and/or sleeping more during the day
- Repeated falls
- Selling possessions
- Slurred speech
- Smell of alcohol on breath
- Solitary or secretive drinking
- Unable to complete activities of daily living
- Unexplained burns/bruises
Caron’s Older Adult Program addresses the complex issues that are often a part of substance abuse in older adults. We can help you and your parent. Recovery is possible at any age.
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