Detecting alcohol problems in older adults: Can we do better?
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This editorial briefs the alcohol problems in older adults. Notwithstanding barriers and challenges in this area, there are numerous current opportunities to improve the care of older adults with alcohol use disorders. First, there is a need for coherent public health messages and awareness campaigns giving clear guidance to older adults as well as professionals about safe levels of alcohol consumption in older adults and this should be backed up by evidence and research. Second, the benefit of reducing alcohol consumption in older adults needs to be stressed so that any message is motivational and encourages individuals to change. Guidance about daily consumption and harm associated with increased frequency of heavy drinking should be provided. There is a particularly obvious need for better detection tools for specific use in older adults to identify both early and late onset drinkers and identify harmful drinking in addition to alcohol dependence. No one screening tool is adequate on its own, nor is it an adequate substitute for taking good history. Health and social care professionals need to be aware that alcohol use disorders in older adults may present in different settings. There is a need for vigilance in considering the possibility of alcohol use disorders in older adults that they are in contact with. If older adults with alcohol use disorders are identified more frequently, there will be a need for better available treatments and services. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)