Community Blog

Seniors and Alcohol: A Lethal Combination

By Debbie Humphrey

An older neighbor of mine – dare I say ‘friend’ – was a bit of a recluse. She would emerge from her home from time to time, usually to retrieve grocery bags from a local cabbie who regularly visited the store for her. Jenn was, usually, relatively pleasant when I saw her, and sometimes she was difficult to get away from, if she needed a listening ear. I assumed she was probably lonely and needed someone to hear her for awhile, so I would visit with her when I could. Not a problem! After all, it is part of what I do professionally every day.

One morning after I arrived at the office, I received a call from my other neighbor who happened to be renting the house to our ‘friend’. She frantically inquired about my last encounter with Jenn. I told her I had been busy with work, and I hadn’t seen her in at least a week, more like two, as I recalled. I’ll never forget what she said after that, “Jenn’s dead. I just found her on the couch, and obviously, she’s been there awhile.”

Home Helpers of ClearwaterMy heart sank. I felt like such a horrible neighbor and ‘friend’. How could I not have noticed not seeing her? Why was I too busy to check on her? I am not my neighbor’s keeper, but I really felt horrible. What seemed worse was she really had no one in her life that truly cared about her. Not even the cabbie who delivered to her multiple times per week bothered to check on her.

Come to find out, the cabbie was bringing her more than groceries. He/She was regularly bringing Jenn boxes of wine. How do we know this? Because when the landlady went thru her things to try to find information to notify next of kin, she found empty wine boxes in most of her dresser drawers, trash cans, and closets throughout the house.

Perhaps, alcoholism drove her loved ones away, and that was why she was such a recluse. When I think about seniors and alcohol, I think of Jenn, and I wish I had paid closer attention to her needs, because that’s one thing we seek to prevent at Home Helpers: loneliness.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, which has me thinking of Jenn. Please know, our caregivers are some of the best, most compassionate people I’ve ever known. They truly care for our clients and are attentive to their individual needs. They are consummate professionals who bring knowledge and skill to each job. They are poised to help with personal care, meal preparation, light housework, transportation assistance, and, of course, companion care, among other things.

Seniors and alcohol don’t always mix well. As we age, our metabolisms change, and our bodies do not process adult beverages like they once did. Furthermore, when alcohol is consumed with some medications, be they over-the-counter or prescription, it can have profoundly negative effects on the kidneys, liver and heart.

Balance is also a serious issue to consider, because once “tipsy,” it is likely a battle with gravity will ensue, which will inevitably result in broken bones and/or ER visits.

Although, not an easy subject to approach with our elders, it is necessary. If you have concerns about seniors you know and their alcohol consumption levels, speak up! It could be the difference between life and death.

Home Helpers® proudly serves male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. If you know a senior who needs companion care, or assistance in other areas of their life, our compassionate caregivers can help. Contact us today to learn more about the many services offered through Home Helpers®. We are Making Life Easier℠. 727-972-2539