As the population of baby boomers enters the senior housing market it is important to remember, resident rights, free choice and the dangers associated with both. A recent article published by the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing suggests that we can and should be doing more to prevent negative outcomes associated with alcohol use.
It is difficult and troubling to label alcohol use as “abuse” based strictly on the frequency of alcohol consumption. There are many other factors related to “labeling” the use of alcohol and it is important that we understand these factors and identify when there may be reason for concern.
The Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing has developed a screening and assessment protocol for guiding seniors on the use of alcohol. The two-page best practices article explains the reasons for performing a screening or assessment and can be found on their website, www.hartfordign.org. The University of Michigan Alcohol Research Center has also developed a short form alcoholism screening instrument tailored to be used when assessing older adults (MAST-G). www.psych.med.umich.edu
Our world is changing, our resident demographics are changing and we need to change with them. Many of our residents operate personal motor vehicles, motorized assist devices, utilize oxygen and maintain smoking paraphernalia. If they are also consuming alcoholic beverages what is your process for maintaining their safety and the safety of those around them.
If you suspect one of your residents is struggling with the effects of alcohol please discuss the situation with them. If possible and the resident is in agreement, include immediate family and the attending physician. Remember, seniors are living in our communities because they require some assistance and we have assumed that responsibility. As always, if you should have any questions please feel free to contact your HealthCap Risk Manager.