Researchers studied data from 3,308 older patients from primary care clinics in and around Santa Barbara, California. However, the sample used is more likely to be white, married, well-educated with high income. In addition, findings are based on self-reports, which also weakens the validity of this study.
Despite a clear lack of generalizability and reliability, researchers have found that the risk associated with drinking in older adults who already have certain illnesses or take medications while consuming alcohol are just as numerous as those at risk from alcohol consumption alone.
The Comorbidity Alcohol Risk Evaluation Tool (CARET) was used to assess drinking habits among these older adults. Results determined whether they were considered to be at risk if they fell into any of the following categories:
- more than 2 drinks consumed on most days of the week
- one to two drinks consumed on most days in combination with other illnesses like gout, hepatitis or nausea
- one to two drinks consumed on most days in combination with medications, such as antidepressants or sedatives
- 34.7 percent (1,147) of older adults were at risk due to drinking alone or to drinking in combination with comorbidities or medications, and 19.5 percent fell into multiple risk categories.
- Of those at risk, 56.1 percent fell into at least two risk categories, and 31 percent fell into all three.
- Participants who had not graduated from high school had 2.5 times the odds of at-risk drinking as those who had completed graduate school.
- Respondents with annual household incomes between $80,000 and $100,000 had 1.5 times the odds of being at-risk as those with incomes under $30,000.
- Respondents who were 80 or older had half the odds of at-risk drinking as those between the ages of 60 and 64.
- Asians had less than half the odds of at-risk drinking as Caucasians.
Regardless of the various inconsistencies, results do suggest that Physicians may need to pay more attention to the drinking habits of certain older adults and any possible interactions that may exist between alcohol consumption and other illnesses or medications since this study has shown that as many as one in three older adults in this study’s sample that continue to drink into older adulthood are more at risk.
High Rates of at-Risk Drinking Among Elderly Adults, Study Finds
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