Baby Boomers and their unique relationship with alcohol and Other drugs
In reality, older adults take a greater toll than younger adults for substance abuse and alcoholism, their increasing number is alarming as they approach the next century.It was predicted by the United States Bureau of Census that the growth of baby boomers also known as adult population will more than double by the year 2050 (Atkinson, R.2000).
Baby boomers unique relationship with alcohol and drug abuse paved the way for psychosocial concerns and may accelerate decline on their physiological welfare. These individuals are at risk for serious illnesses, injuries and socioeconomic downfall.
A typical baby boomer will disapprove the possibility of treatment and corrections (Fries, F. 2001). Many individuals in this age group are reluctant and ashamed of admitting their use and misuse of drugs and alcohol and seek professional help (Atkinson, R. 2000). They consider the situation as a private matter and need not have intervention from other people. Even relatives of this adult population whom are into substance abuse and alcoholism are ashamed of the current situation and would rather keep themselves in silence and not address the current situation.
Most of the relatives thought that the older individuals who are into alcohol and drugs are happy and there was no difference if they intended to continue their habitual vices for they will not stay much longer in this world (Schulenberg, J. 2002). There is unspoken assumption that it was not worth to correct and treat the older individuals for alcohol and drug abuse makes the matter worst and increase their numbers in the society. Discussion The aging of Baby Boomers who were into an early alcohol and substance abuse would be an alarming sign of greater problems in the future.
The physical and psychological effects of alcohol and drug abuse to older individuals may influence their children and carry the habit when they reach old age too (Schulenberg, J. 2002). The potential increase in alcohol and drugs morbidity will affect the future health services. Though there seem to be no urgency to correct the unique relationship of Baby Boomers to alcohol and other drugs with impressions that treatment of older population will not be a success and only a waste of health care resources.
These callous attitudes of many individuals will only create problems that will affect the future generation (Atkinson, R. 2000). The impressions of depression for other adults who can do self-medication and can live alone will only lower their living satisfaction and further enhanced by past experiences of loosing their spouse, unemployment, injuries and depression (Fries, F. 2001). They are also facing chronic and lingering illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, senility and other forms of ailments that made them dependent to other individuals while performing their daily activities.
The prevailing cultural beliefs of individuals in the age bracket of sixty and older will encounter abuse or misuse of alcohol and other drugs, good examples are buying over-the-counter drugs cough suppressants with high alcohol content that could interact negatively with other medicines they are taking (Fries, F. 2001). The unique relationship of older adults to alcohol and other drugs cannot be easily identified due to their similarities with other symptoms of illnesses common to aged.
They may keep on reminding the health care professional the similarities of their prevailing condition from their parents and grandparents (Epstein, F. 2002). The recognition of alcohol and other substances abused are not typical for the younger population because they are now living independently, no longer employed, with lesser socialization and may no longer be driving, hence reducing the potential to trace their alcohol and other drugs in their system.
There are circumstances that older individuals are into prescription drugs like sedatives, hypnotics and depressants with problematic effect brought by age-related metabolism and negative chemical and alcohol interactions with other prescribed medications (Schulenberg, J. 2002). The adverse effects of drugs and alcohol to older individual are cognitive impairment, physiological impairment, delirium and greater risk of falling that needs medical intervention and institutionalization.
The age-related changes varies according to their body systems, the parameter of their alcohol and drugs intake can be medically hazardous despite of lower frequency of intake (Atkinson, R. 2000). The older individual unique responses with alcohol and other drugs will undoubtedly increase false diagnostic procedures and may diminish their quality of living. The complexity of Baby Boomers condition makes the diagnosis and treatment difficult and will serve as barriers for effective recovery from the disorders (Fries, F. 2001).
Being old was coined during the mid-1960s to describe the Baby Boomers tendency to react negatively to corrections instead of looking for specific causes of their medical, social, biological, psychological and physical conditions (Epstein, F. 2002). It was further deteriorated by other people’s assumption that older person comprised powerlessness, uselessness and death. This stereotype internalization may categorize the older person as senile though in reality was afflicted with treatable ailments cause by alcohol and other drugs abuse.
Caregivers may have good intention but the confusion and unchallenging condition of older individual age-related illnesses while conducting routine medical monitoring would deem not worthy of treating for they would die soon anyway. Other factor that contributes to worsening condition of older individual is the stigma associated to gender, religion and culture. The older individual’s perception of alcohol and drugs during 1950s was influenced by advertisement from moral failing to prosperity and achievement.
They are also very sensitive to issues concerning psychiatric disorders and reluctant to acknowledge symptoms of alcohol and other drug abuse (Fries, F. 2001). Many of older individual will simply relate their problems to old age and would think that alcoholism and drug related dependency is a youth problem. They keep on masking their serious drinking of alcohol as a pleasure and a kind of social drinking for they already accomplished their family responsibilities and does not have any work to do (Epstein, F.2002).
The multiple symptoms for older individual made it difficult of health care providers to suspect that they are into alcoholism and drug abused, typical symptoms includes irritability, insomnia, chronic pain, common medical disorder or combination of any of these conditions. Stereotyping is another barrier to detect the symptoms of alcohol and other drugs abuse for older individual especially for women who came from higher socioeconomic background. The individual patient’s age is correlated on the length of physician’s time spent; the older the patient, the lesser the time spent by the physician (Atkinson, R.
2000). This is due to older individual’s lesser complaint and it is not easier to detect his underlying problem on alcohol and other drug abuse. The unique relationship of older individual with alcohol and other drug abuse increasingly compete with his other health problems (Atkinson, R. 2000). The immediate family members of confined elderly will give higher priority to physical conditions concerning heart, renal failure or other organ failure, psychological impressions while alcoholism and drug abuse is usually at the least among concerns (Atkinson, R.
2000). Diagnostic treatment for older individuals who are alcoholics and suffering from other substance abuse are complicated to other prevailing medical conditions such as impairment of their cognitive facilities, depressions, basic sensory deficits like hearing impairment or vision blurredness and even lack of mobility (Epstein, F. 2002). One good example is older patients who can no longer walk up stairs or drive a car after dark.
There are situations that health care professionals would not suggest accommodation of older individual for treatment due to complex barriers of aging (Atkinson, R. 2000). In the case of minority elders, language barrier is another issue that needs attention, being first generation immigrants in a place, most of them cannot relate to universal language like English which most professional opted to use (Fries, F. 2001). An interpreter is needed to communicate with health care professionals that might be providing bias communication which adds more barriers for effective correction.
The cultural competence of health care professional is crucial especially for Non-English speaking minorities like Europeans, Asians and Native Americans (Epstein, F. 2002). Another issue is the homebound and handicapped elderly that immediate family members find it difficult to transport them to medical intervention institutions. Home confinement restricted them with various health problems like chronic lung diseases, heart ailment, diabetes and other medical conditions without considering the possibility of alcoholism and other drugs abuse (Atkinson, R.
2000). The weak and frail condition of older individual needs considerable and taxing effort of immediate and able family members to health care institutions. Their isolated condition make the matter worse due to limited contacts with other people that the alcohol and other drugs abuse are neglected (Fries, F. 2001). The worsening condition of older individuals due to licit and illicit drugs and alcohol will greatly affect their immediate relatives and the younger generation may have misperception that being old is just normal to suffer from health discomfort.
Knowing and discovering the hidden condition of the elderly in terms of misuse and abuse of alcohol and other substance will pave the way to correct past beliefs and thinking on their failing health (Atkinson, R. 2000). The older abusers of alcohol and other drugs share common adverse reactions with their younger counterpart and this inter-generation equity must be resolved and prevented the earliest possible time (Epstein, F. 2002). The growing population of elderly with health burden, alcoholism and drug abuse will be a burden to society and an enhanced alcohol and substance abuse policy for successful treatment is needed.
The baby boomers are born between 1946 and 1964 and there is a great possibility of increasing their population by approximately twenty percent by 2030, this impending retirement will have a great impact to their unique relationship with alcohol and other substance abuse (Epstein, F. 2002). Conclusion The distinct characteristics of older individual’s relationship with alcohol and drug abuse needs through understanding of their misuse or abuse of these components which resulted to adverse and negative impact to their well-being (Fries, F.
2001). Today’s elderly population has an increase rate of emotional crisis brought by alcohol and drug abuse that needs practical and immediate recommendation to put individual’s understanding into practice for treatment (Epstein, F. 2002). Baby boomers are once productive and great contributor of the society and their aging must not be a reason to neglect the proper health care intervention needed to enjoy their last hails in life peacefully.
Alcohol and substance abuse will greatly affect the baby boomers ability to spend the rest of their life from healthy and sound environment. This is serious problem among older individuals which will have a major consequence to their chronic disability from physical and mental capacity and lower standards of living. References Atkinson, R. (2000). Alcohol and Substance – use Disorders in the Elderly. Handbook of Mental Health and Aging, 2nd Edition, Academic Press, Inc. , San Diego California, pp.
514-554. Schulenberg, J. (2002). A New Elderly-Specific Screening Test – Geriatric Version on Alcoholism, American Clinical and Experimental Research Journal, pp. 769-774. Epstein, F. (2002). Substance Dependence Abuse and Treatment: Findings from the 2000 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, DHHS Publication Series A-16, Office of Applied Studies, New York, pp. 87-97. Fries, F. (2001). Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics of Older Americans, Journal of Medicine, NY, pp. 130-135.