Older and immunocompromised Americans are at the most significant risk of contracting and succumbing to the coronavirus. Seeing as many people in addiction recovery are elderly, many of whom have compromised immune systems from misusing drugs and alcohol, older individuals in the program are at even higher risk.
The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated communities across the globe. America now has the highest number of cases and deaths by far, and the elderly are the most likely to be hospitalized and die during this pandemic. As of May 7, 2020, 1,244,465 Americans have been infected, and 74,413 have died.
Almost half of men and women in their golden years, 55 to 64, have at least one pre-existing health condition, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Current data shows that people with pre-existing conditions, particularly involving the respiratory and pulmonary systems, are at the most significant risk of death.
Older Americans who misuse alcohol are also at substantial risk when it comes to COVID-19; alcohol weakens the immune system, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Older adults with alcohol problems can protect their life by seeking help immediately.
Older Americans Month and Addiction
Last week, we informed our readers that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. However, May is also Older Americans Month; the theme for 2020 is “Make Your Mark.” The Administration for Community Living writes:
“This theme was selected to encourage and celebrate countless contributions that older adults make to our communities. Their time, experience, and talents benefit family, peers, and neighbors every day. Communities, organizations, and individuals of all ages are also making their marks. This year’s theme highlights the difference everyone can make – in the lives of older adults, in support of caregivers, and to strengthen communities.”
While it is excellent to observe Older Americans Month, the fact that it’s Mental Health Month dictates that we raise awareness about alcohol and drug misuse in the elderly communities as well.
As we mentioned above, alcohol use and misuse compromise the immune system; a healthy immune system is needed now more than ever. You may find it concerning to learn that a significant number of older Americans are binge drinkers and have problems with alcohol, according to the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
A study published in 2019 showed that more than one in 10 older Americans binge drink, CBS reports. Having five or more drinks at a time for men, and four or more drinks at a time for women is considered binge drinking.
Researchers discovered some even more concerning findings. The study showed that an estimated 70 percent of all hospitalized older persons had problems with alcohol; the same was true with residents at nursing homes—50 percent alcohol-related problems in general.
During a pandemic, it’s essential to lovingly and compassionately encourage older Americans struggling with alcohol to seek help. Addiction treatment can save an older person’s life in more ways than one.
Older Adult Addiction Treatment Program
At Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat, we have found that age-specific treatment programs can produce better patient outcomes. HVRC offers a program for older adults struggling with addiction. If you or someone you love require assistance for alcohol or substance use disorder, then please contact our Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Hospital (CDRH).