Seniors Binge Drink Most Often, Study Finds

Alcoholism in Seniors

In a recent Vital Signs report, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the group of people who binge drink most often are those 65 years and older, drinking an average of five to six times per month. Binge drinking is defined as men drinking 5 or more alcoholic drinks within a short period of time or women drinking 4 or more drinks within a short period of time.

“Alcohol abuse among the elderly is not a new phenomenon,” according to Dr. David Tews, adjunct faculty member in the Counselor Education Program at Loyola University in Chicago, Northern Illinois University, and addiction consultant at SoftLandingRecovery. “We’re seeing an increased number of elderly drinkers simply because the population as a whole is aging.” Indeed, the over 65 population in the United States was 12% in 2000 and is expected to reach 20% in 2050.

“There also tends to be an attitude of “I deserve this” among older drinkers. Particularly after retirement, many feel they’ve earned the right to drink as much as they like—they’ve put in their years of productivity and there’s no chance that their actions will have career-altering repercussions.” 

Senior binge drinking is not necessarily an indicator of alcoholism, although the near epidemic number of senior binge drinkers illustrates that the trend is largely ignored or unreported. Many factors contribute its concealment.

Oftentimes, the effects of alcohol are mistaken for other conditions associated with aging, such as a lack of mental acuity, memory loss or depression. Medication can be blamed for erratic behavior (although drug and alcohol interactions can be especially serious to health, and can even result in fatality.) Outreach and treatment programs tend to target the more visible young alcohol abusers.

“Current treatment focuses on future planning,” Dr. Tews added. “Many senior alcohol abusers believe long-term treatment plans for them would be futile.”

Be aware that binge drinking in the elderly can result in other negative consequences, besides the obvious health detriments. According to Seniors in Sobriety:

  • Seniors appear to be more vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of alcohol that cause brain damage, resulting in Alzheimer’s-like symptoms.
  • Use of alcohol in older adults can result in trauma. Falls constitute the largest single cause of injury mortality in elderly individuals. 40% of all nursing home admissions are the result of falls.
  • Heavy alcohol consumption is a known risk factor for depression, dementia and suicide.
  • Alcohol abuse has been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers already age related, such as liver, colon and prostate cancer.
  • Late onset drinking can begin when stressful life events occur such as bereavement, disability or retirement.
If you think you or a senior you love may have a problem with binge drinking or alcoholism, your state��s Department on Aging may be able to provide you with information regarding alcohol and drug abuse treatment and prevention programs in your area.


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Early Alzheimer's Diagnosis Beneficial for Patients, Caregivers

Early Alzheimer's disease detection and diagnosis is the theme of this years’ “Let’s Face It” campaign waged by the Alzheimer Society of Canada. January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in Canada and internationally, Alzheimer’s organizations are urging people to diagnose early.

Although diagnosis in an early or asymptomatic stage is a challenge, researchers are looking at biomarkers to diagnose early, before the disease has a chance to affect the brain. And while there is still no known cure for Alzheimer's disease, experts assert that early detection is helpful in many ways.
  • Helps reduce anxiety on the part of the affected person and his or her family about the cause of symptoms
  • Allows for the person with the disease to partake in planning for the future
  • Allows physicians and caregivers to be aware of patients who may have difficulty managing their own health care, such as when and how to take other prescription medications
  • Allows potential management of symptoms with medication or other interventions that maintain the best possible level of health and functioning for the person with the disease
  • Allows for coordination of primary and specialty care which may help prevent prescription of medications for coexisting conditions that worsen cognitive function
  • Aids the management of possible behavioral symptoms for the benefit of both the person with the disease and their caregiver
  • Allows caregivers and family members to access training, education and support services to help them with caregiver tasks and reduce negative effects of caregiving, such as stress and depression
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the following are 10 signs & symptoms of early Alzheimer’s and may signal the need to seek medical attention:
  1. Memory changes that disrupt daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
  4. Confusion with time or place.
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationship
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing.
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment.
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities.
  10. Changes in mood and personality.
Of course, skeptics question the value of early detection and wonder if it is just an opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to target a new group of customers. Also, they raise concern about the stigma associated with the disease. However, because of other chronic medical conditions associated with the disease such as diabetes and vascular disorders (hypertension), many physicians urge screening and tout the many benefits of early detection.

Early detection also affords the ability to put one’s financial house in order. It would be prudent to understand the ways to pay for senior care if you are facing many years of care as a result of living with memory loss.

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Caregiver Training

Caregiver training for seniors often is needed immediately.  As senior caregiving needs sometimes arise quickly, after a senior suffers a stroke or is first diagnosed with memory loss.  Family members may step-in as caregivers while professional care services are being organized.

Caregivers can become certified with the basic senior caregiving skills through a 10-hour online caregiver certification course, meeting the requirements established in a few states that require training for licensed senior home care agencies.  As the number of seniors is growing, more training requirements are being required in order to make sure seniors are receiving quality care and to eliminate fraud.

Understanding how to communicate with seniors with memory loss, safely transfer and provide for the daily activities of living are all taught as part of caregiver certification.

The full spectrum of caregiving is addressed in senior caregiver training, including understanding signs of abuse.  You may view the caregiver training modules and purchase the online caregiver training course to become certified as a senior caregiver.  You must pass the course exam at 80% in order to receive a certificate of completion.

Caregivers may begin a career by working as a companion caregiver and receive on-the-job training by a licensed senior home care agency as many seniors with memory loss only need companion care services at first.  You may apply for a part-time or full-time senior caregiver job near you.

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Illinois Senator Mark Kirk Suffers Stroke

Strokes are one of the most common age-related illnesses, but they can strike when people are younger.  Today it was announced that Illinois' Senator Mark Kirk suffered a stroke over the weekend and while at age 52, he was healthy (minus the stress that comes with being a Senator), he was able to have surgery to relieve swelling on his brain.

Senator Kirk's ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that sends blood to the brain gets blocked.  It is the most common type of stroke.  It can result in paralysis suffered on one side of the body.  Senator Kirk is experiencing some movement issues with the left side of his body, including his arm, leg and face.

The State of the Union speech is tonight, and Illinois residents will be without Senator Kirk in the chambers.  He replaced Senator Barack Obama's seat, winning in an election after the former Illinois Governor (who is on his way to prison), first tried to sell the seat.

We wish Senator Kirk well in his recovery.  Many seniors, age 65 and older, who are on Medicare or Medicaid health insurance, are transfered from a hospital to a nursing home for recovery rehabilitation after a stroke.  You can view nursing home costs and quality ratings on Caregiverlist.




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Doctors Soon Required to Report Payments from Drug Companies

Medical doctors often receive payments from drug companies for "consulting", speaking and conducting research.  Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes, research has shown, this is not so good.  This then contributes to influencing treatment decisions and contributes to higher costs via more expensive drugs and medical devices.

For instance, blood pressure can be naturally lowered through diet and breathing exercises - naturally.  How many doctors prescribe daily relaxation breathing for their patients with high blood pressure?

Diabetics can also greatly influence their outcomes by proper diet and exercise - even up to 50% or more according to studies.

Now, the new health care law will require the medical doctors to disclose the payments they may receive from drug and medical device companies each year.  An analysis by the New York Times found that about a quarter of medical doctors take cash payments from drug and device makers and nearly two-thirds accept routine gifts of food, including fancy lunches and dinners for themselves and their staff.

And, doctors who accept these payment perks do prescribe more drugs than those who do not.

Under the new standards, if a company has just 1 product covered by Medicare or Medicaid, it will have to disclose all of its payments to doctors other than its own employees.  The federal governemtn will post the payment data on a website where it will be available for the public. This will hold everyone accountable.

Companies will be fined as much as $10,000 if they fail to report payments.  This should help curb Medicare and Medicaid fraud which has been as much as $6 billion in the past.

Senior caregivers should also report fraud when they see it, as they are the eyes for many seniors and their families.  Unneeded medical equipment and prescriptions have been popular ways for companies to tap into unnecessary Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements in the past.



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Caregiver Permits Required in Napa County

Elder abuse, which is so unfortunate, continues to happen, especially by family caregivers.  Elder abuse stories permeate the news.  Recently, Joseph McCoy, 30, and Darlene Green, 54, both pleaded no contest to felony elder abuse of their grandmother and mother, respectively, in Bakersfield, California. The case was one of the worst that healthcare professionals had ever seen, according to court records.

In an effort to stem senior abuse, Napa County California began enforcing a new law requiring all home caregivers to register for a permit if they receive free room and board or any other form of compensation for caregiving. This includes family caregivers. Permits are issued after caregivers undergo background checks through the Napa County Area Agency on Aging’s website.

According to the county, for a private caregiver, the background check fee is $90 for the first year, $79 for the second year and $67 for the following year. The annual permit, issued by the Napa County clerk/recorder, costs $20 per year. In six months, Napa county has issued permits to nearly 200 caregivers.

Caregiver agencies must also submit names for background checks and purchase permits for their home caregivers. State-licensed registered nurses and certified nursing assistants are exempt from required permits.

Caregiverlist has always championed background checks for home health care workers with its Criminal Super Search with Social Security Number Match at a cost of $18 and same-day turnaround. But while this is a recommended check, most states do not require this vetting.

Will other states follow Napa County’s lead? You can keep up with the latest recommendations by checking your state’s Area Agency on Aging.

What do you think? Is the permit program launched in Napa California a good idea to help prevent elder care abuse, or do you feel it is one more bureaucratic intrusion and a way to collect fees from caregivers, especially those caring for family members?

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Caregiver Stress: American Psychological Association Confirms

Senior caregivers well know that their work can be stressful.  Now the American Psychological Association is highlighting the link between stress and health.  Many times the caregiver of a senior can find they have additional health problems because of the stress of caregiving.  The data from the latest Stress in America survey suggests that the connection between stress and health is especially critical among adults age 50 and older who serve as caregivers for a family member.

This is why hiring a professional caregiver delivers more than just care for the senior - it also assists the senior's loved ones to maintain balance in their own life.  And it allows the senior's spouse and children and friends to enjoy quality time with them.

Managing stress in a health way is important for senior caregivers.  One quick stress reliever, which also delivers a health benefit by instantly lowering blood pressure and producing a relaxation response is the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise.

Relaxation Breath Exercise:  The 4-7-8 Breath

This exercise is simple and does not require special equipment - we give credit to Dr. Andrew Weil.

  1. Exhale completely through your moth, making a whoosh sound.
  2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of 4.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of 7.
  4. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of 8.
  5. This is 1 breath.  Now inhale again and repeat the cycle 3 more times for a total of 4 breaths.

Now do you feel relaxed?  It works every time.  Always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth.  The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time.  Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation.  The time you spend on each phase is not important: the ratio of 4:7:8 is important.

As everyone is learning the value of having a professional caregiver, those who are interested in working as caregivers may apply for a caregiving job position in their area - just remember to take time to take care of the caregiver!


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San Diego Certified Nursing Aide (C.N.A.) Jobs

Certified Nursing Aides or Certified Nursing Assistants, can apply for a C.N.A. job in their area on  As new Assisted Living communities have opened their doors, and more seniors choose to age-in-place in San Diego, more C.N.A. job positions are available.

Senior caregivers interested in becoming a C.N.A. may find schools in the San Diego area providing Certified Nursing Aide training programs.

C.N.A. jobs include working in nursing homes, assisted living communities and for senior home care agencies or hospices.  Certified Nursing Aides provide the hands-on care and really are the main care provider for seniors with age-related illnesses or with hospice care services, which delivers high job fulfillment for C.N.A.'s.

Caesar Chavez Nursing School in San Deigo provides a 6-week C.N.A. training program that costs about $300.00. Admission requirements include passing a criminal background check, Tuberculosis Skin Test, fingerprint submission, background check and reading and English competency exam.  Check out a sample C.N.A. text to learn about the skills taught in a C.N.A. program.  Each state requires passing their Certified Nursing Aide exam to become officially "certified" as a nursing assistant.

Certified Nursing Aides and professional caregivers may view C.N.A. schools and a caregiver job description and apply for a C.N.A. job in their area.


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Caregiving Innovation Award of $10,000: Nominations Being Accepted

Caregiving programs that demonstrate innovation can be considered for a $10,000 grant/award through the National Alliance for Caregiving and MetLife Foundation.  The Innovations in Caregiving award of $10,000 will be given to 5 non-profit organizations which provide either caregiving education or support programs.

The deadline for applications is January 27, 2012.

This program, created by the MetLife Foundation and the National Alliance for Caregiving, stimulates the replication of outstanding caregiver education and support programs and best practices.  The financial support of the award, given to 5 winners, assists the organizations to allow others to replicate the programs.

An Advisory Committee, consisting of experts in caregiving, includes former National Family Caregiving Award winners.

Review the guide for submissions to the National Family Caregiving Awards and submit the application by January 27, 2012.  You may also find current senior programs in your state to assist a senior in Caregiverlist's By-State directory of senior care.

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Certified Nursing Assistant Jobs: Begin a Career in Caregiving

Certified Nursing Assistant jobs are plentiful and will continue to grow. This is because facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living, who provide nursing care for seniors, must maintain a minimum staffing level of Certified Nursing Assistants (also called Certified Nursing Aides, or C.N.A.'s, for short).   Health inspectors will drop by to make sure the faciltiies are maintaining the staffing levels and this is so important that many senior care companies hire an extra staffing firm to be on deck to staff when a C.N.A. calls in sick.

Certified Nursing Assistants assist with the "hands-on" care for seniors.  This includes assisting with bathing, feeding, bathroom visits, exercises, transfers and really all aspects of care, including maintaining proper care notes.

Certified Nursing Aide schools provide training, which meets the state guidelines in each state.  The C.N.A. student must complete field work where they will actually work at a facility for training and then must pass the state C.N.A. exam.

Certified Nursing Aide employment may be with a senior home care agency (assisting a senior in their home), a nursing home or assisted living community or hospice.  Hospice care can be in a hospital setting or in the home.

Certified Nursing Aide schools may offer scholoarships and some employers will reimburse tuition.  The course usually lasts from 6 weeks to 6 months, depending on if it is a part-time or full-time nursing aide training program.  Some employers, such as nursing homes, also provide their own C.N.A. classes only for nursing aides they will be hiring.

Caregiverlist's Certified Nursing Aide school directory provides the admission requirements and tuition costs at schools nationwide.  Usually students must have a high school dipoloma or the equivalent in order to be admitted.

Caregivers who are interested in studying to be a C.N.A. may take a free sample C.N.A. test or an official C.N.A. practice test to learn about the skills taught.  Once a certificate has been earned, a C.N.A. must meet state requirements to renew it, usually every 2 years.

Professional caregivers may begin their career in caregiving by working for a senior home care agency as a companion caregiver and may also obtain a caregiver certification to provide professional caregiving services through a 10-hour online caregiver certification course.



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