Many people only associate substance abuse and addiction with young people. Radio and television ads target young children, adolescents, and young adults with messages like “Don’t Fall Into the Death Trap” and “Don’t Let Drugs Get in the Way of Your Dreams.”

But, addiction and substance abuse can become a problem for anyone, regardless of their age. Recent studies have shown that Baby Boomers turn to alcohol and drugs as much, if not more than previous generations.

Geriatric substance abuse is rising – doubling in amount since the early 200s- in adults age 65 or older, and there’s no end in sight. This concerns many caregivers, and they aren’t sure what they should do. Read on for more information on the causes, symptoms, and treatments for seniors caught in this downward spiral.

What Causes Substance Abuse in the Elderly?

Substance or alcohol abuse in seniors may not only recently have developed; it might have been hidden there since their youth. Unique triggers that are age-related can be the source of the onset of alcoholism or substance abuse in seniors. Stress from physical ailments, financial pressure, or dependence on others can be the impetus for a senior to turn to substances to dull the pain.

The regular access for seniors to pills and other medications prescribed to themselves or friends is another source of abuse. Nursing homes are supposed to be dedicated to providing the safest care to seniors. However, they’re also where many seniors begin their path to addiction.

Studies have also shown that widowers over the age of 75 currently make up the majority of people suffering from alcoholism in seniors. They, unfortunately, turn to it as a way of medicating their grief.

The Symptoms of Senior Substance Abuse

If you’re concerned about the senior in your life abusing drugs or alcohol, here are some signs experts have identified as common indicators:

  • No longer enjoying the hobbies or interests they previously loved
  • Aggressive and hostile behaviors
  • The onset of depression or anxiety
  • Secretive or solitary drinking habits
  • A drastic change in personal appearance and hygiene
  • Chronic health complaints not linked to obvious health problems

How You Can Help

It all starts with talking with the senior you’re concerned about. Talk to them about their habits or any concerns you have about their drinking or the quantity of medications they’re taking.

If the problem is identified and confirmed, inpatient or outpatient treatment at a facility specializing in substance abuse may be warranted. These facilities offer treatment for a wide variety of addictions, including many types of drugs and alcohol.

How We Can Assist with Senior Substance Abuse

New Wave Home Care’s carefully screened and professional caregivers can help your loved one remain safe with medication reminders and supervision. Our services include also include respite care, personal care, transitional care, and hospice support.

Our mission is to support families with personalized in-home solutions. We’ve been providing exceptional home care services in Pasadena, CA, for over 10 years. Contact us today for a FREE in-home assessment by visiting us at or call us at (626) 662-7738.