Recognition of Unhealthy Alcohol Use in Older Adults


      • Alcohol use in adults older adults, ages 65 years and older, is increasing.
      • Unhealthy alcohol use can lead to adverse health outcomes as the aging body reacts differently to alcohol compared to younger ages.
      • Age-appropriate screening tools better identify those older adults at risk.
      • Primary, Secondary and Tertiary prevention interventions increase awareness, screening and interventions for unhealthy alcohol use in older adults.


      The older adult population is at risk for adverse consequences of unhealthy alcohol use. Unhealthy alcohol use describes several alcohol-related behaviors, such as harmful alcohol use, abuse, or dependence. Unfortunately, this population is less likely to be screened or assessed for unhealthy alcohol use, and standard screening tools may not address the unique issues associated with aging. Primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention actions help bring awareness to this patient population, assess for unhealthy alcohol use, and provide age-appropriate interventions.


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      Jacquelyn M. Owens, DNP, FNP-BC, is an assistant professor at West Chester University of Pennsylvania and an NP at Alcera Family Medicine in Hainesport, New Jersey, and can be contacted at [email protected] .