Tag Archive for: health

senior drinking alcohol sadly

Alcohol Awareness: Know the Symptoms of Addiction, Take Action

Know the Symptoms of Addiction, Take Action 

We often raise a glass to remember someone who’s passed, celebrate a special occasion, and relax after a workday. With the prevalence of alcohol use, it may be tough to spot alcohol addiction in a loved one––or even yourself. Having a general alcohol awareness can encourage you to recognize the symptoms of alcohol addiction.  

Why is Alcohol Awareness Important? 

Alcohol is the most used substance in the U.S. and is the third-leading preventable cause of death. Annually, an estimated 95,000 people (approximately 68,000 men and 27,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes. 

Alcohol use is widespread in our country and impacts our lives in different ways. All Americans need to know the signs and symptoms of alcoholism to possibly save the life of a loved one who may be addicted to alcohol.  

Prevention is just as important as treatment. Speaking with your children and grandchildren about alcohol awareness and the dangers of underage drinking and binge drinking is important. You can play a critical role in informing young family members about the harmful impact drugs and alcohol can have on their lives. 

What Are the Signs of Alcohol Abuse? 

Alcohol is a legal drug in the U.S., but it still carries a significant risk of addiction. According to the American Addiction Centers, signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse include, 

  • Poor coordination 
  • Slurred speech 
  • Impaired thinking 
  • Memory impairment 
  • Wanting to stop drinking but not managing to do so 
  • Diverting energy from work, family, and social life to drink 
  • Being secretive about the extent of the alcohol abuse to protect it 
  • Engaging in risky behavior, such as drunk driving 
  • Being in denial about the extent of the alcohol abuse problem 
  • Becoming distressed at the prospect of not having access to alcohol 

How Alcohol Use Disorder Impacts Your Life 

If a loved one is unable to control their alcohol use, they may be suffering from Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). People with a history of childhood trauma, drinking at an early age, and a family history of alcohol abuse are at a higher risk for alcohol use disorder. 

Physical Impact 

Abusing alcohol can significantly increase your risk for chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, and high blood pressure. Heavy drinking also takes its toll on vital organs such as the liver and the pancreas. 

Individuals with severe AUD often disregard their nutritional needs, frequently skipping meals. They may develop a nutritional deficiency, causing changes in the skin, hair, nails, and eyes. 

Social Impact 

As alcohol addiction consumes a loved one, they may withdraw from friends and family. Relationships can become strained and distant. Excessive drinking can also negatively impact your career. Alcohol abuse can cause you to miss work due to hangovers, lead to poor decision-making, and strain workplace relationships.

Emotional Impact 

Consuming alcohol produces chemical changes in our brain. We often feel more relaxed when we have a drink or two. But, some individuals with AUD report that they become angry, anxious, depressed, or abusive when they drink. There is also a strong correlation between alcohol abuse and suicidal thoughts

How to Get Help for Alcohol Abuse Disorder 

Many people with AUD don’t seek treatment because they don’t realize they have a problem or are embarrassed that they can’t control their alcohol consumption. Overcoming an addiction on your own is nearly impossible. It is crucial to enlist the support of family and friends. 

If you think you or a loved one may have a problem with alcohol, don’t be afraid to discuss treatment options with your doctor. You can also reach out to a resource below. 

Alcoholics Anonymous  

NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator 

SAMHSA’s National Helpline 

Senior oral health

Why Senior Oral Health Matters in Golden Years

Keeping your pearly whites cared for is critical at any age, but especially in your golden years. Good senior oral health and a smile boosts your confidence, keeps you enjoying nutritious foods, and promotes good health. Although Medicare doesn’t cover routine dental care, it’s important to visit your dentist regularly and to keep up with your at-home care to prevent serious oral issues.

Common Oral Health Concerns for Older Adults

Decay in your mouth can impact other parts of your body, including your heart and lungs. Good senior oral health can keep these common health issues at bay.

  • Gum DiseaseAccording to the CDC, 70 percent of Americans age 65 and older have periodontal (gum) disease gum. Gum disease develops when bacteria in the mouth infect the gums. Risk factors for gum disease include smoking, crooked teeth, diabetes, and poor oral hygiene.
  • Tooth Loss – As children, we proudly flash our toothless grins. But, when we are adults, tooth loss can be devastating. Sadly, 27 percent of seniors over age 65 have no remaining teeth. Caused by poor oral health and untreated gum disease, tooth loss can have a negative impact on nutritional health and self-confidence.
  • Diabetes – People with diabetes are at a higher risk for gum disease, according to the American Dental Association. This is because excess glucose in the salvia feeds bacteria in the mouth, causing it to grow, eventually evolving into gum disease. A serious infection, like gum disease, can cause your blood sugar to rise. So, the bottom line is, keeping your blood sugar under control prevents gum disease and vice versa!
  • Pneumonia – When particles of food remain in your mouth, or you have an infection in your mouth, it can create problems for your lungs. When you inhale through your mouth, bacteria or food particles can be taken in, which can lead to pneumonia. Seniors are at a higher risk for complications from respiratory infections like pneumonia.
  • Heart Issues – Endocarditis is inflammation of the inner lining of the heart. It can be caused when an infection in your mouth spreads to your heart. Though it can be usually treated successfully with antibiotics, it can strain and damage the heart.

Oral Health Concerns in Older Adults Can Impact Quality of Life

Aching teeth or tooth loss can affect your appetite. You may feel hungry, but the pain in your mouth can cause you to eat less food. This can lead to depression, weight loss and a lack of vital nutrients.

Poor senior oral health can lead to bad breath, tooth decay, and even affect your ability to speak. These things can decrease self-esteem.

But there is plenty you can do to keep your teeth healthy.

1.   Quit Smoking

Tobacco use is linked to many oral health problems. Quitting smoking can be challenging, but your mouth and body will thank you! If you’re having trouble, talk to your doctor about medications that may help you kick the habit.

2.   Brush and Floss

Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day is an easy change you can make right away to improve oral health. If it’s in your budget, buy an electric toothbrush. If you’re an older adult with arthritis, an electric toothbrush may be easier to use than a traditional brush.

3.   Clean Your Dentures

Senior oral health can be impacted by dentures, which can be a magnet for bacteria. If you wear them, make sure you’re cleaning them nightly. Visit your dentist so they can do a thorough cleaning and make any adjustments to your dentures if they aren’t fitting quite right.

How Often Should Seniors Visit the Dentist?

Mark your calendar! You should be visiting your dentist at least twice a year. These regular check-ups and screenings are your key to preventing gum disease and diagnosing oral health concerns in older adults such as cavities, receding gum lines, and cancer.

Affording Dental Care for Better Senior Oral Health

A common concern among older Americans is how to afford dental care. Staying current on your bi-yearly cleanings is beneficial for your teeth and wallet. The regular cleanings can prevent serious (and often expensive) issues from developing in your mouth.

If you’re looking for an alternative to paying out-of-pocket for dental care, WelbeHealth provides program participants with comprehensive dental care services. Oral care is an integral part of WelbeHealth’s holistic approach to caring for seniors.