Screening Older Adults for Alcohol Use

Published:September 22, 2022DOI:


      • Rates of alcohol use among older adults are increasing.
      • Older adults are less likely to be screened than younger people.
      • Research and guidance on best practices for screening are limited.
      • Traditional tools may not accurately assess older people.
      • Alcohol screening should be performed regardless of the method.


      The number of older adults engaging in unhealthy alcohol use is on the rise, and this trend is expected to continue as the population ages. However, the likelihood a provider will ask an older adult about their alcohol use decreases with age. Geriatric screening tools take into account the particular features of alcohol use in older adults, but minimal research and guidance are available regarding the best method for screening. Lack of knowledge and time are significant obstacles to adequate assessment. Simply asking about alcohol consumption may be the best approach to evaluate the drinking habits of older patients.


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      Marie Briggs, MSN, RN, CHPN, is a nurse at Promedica Hospice in Buffalo Grove, IL, and can be contacted at [email protected] .


      Amanda Peacock, DNP, APRN, AGNP-C is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of Adult Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program at Niehoff School of Nursing, Loyola University.