Alcohol and Aging – A Growing Concern
There is a growing aging population in Finland. By 2060 every 4th person will be 65+. Research shows that 62% of the Finnish aging population uses alcohol and 8% of these abuse it. Exceessive alcohol use in the elderly leads to loneliness, accidents, mixing with medication, binge drinking and using alcohol as self medication. The Finnish Blue Ribbon has created a groups to train professionals and offer peer support, advice and information to the aging population.
Even though the age structure of our society has changed considerably, rehabilitative and addiction prevention work with the elderly has not yet been seen as a special issue in its own right. According to studies, some elderly users of alcohol benefit particularly from information regarding the combined effects of alcohol and health, medications and ageing. We must therefore increase our health care workers basic knowledge of the risks linking alcohol to certain illnesses and medication.
The safety and well-being of society is best promoted by increasing the safety and well-being of individuals or groups that are considered the most vulnerable. Elderly persons have the right to receive information about how alcohol use is linked to ageing and be offered addiction services tailored to their needs. This project enables each person to receive information and support without judgement through a group work model where facilitators are trained on age specific substance abuse matters.
Through the development and implementation of concrete guidelines for dealing with addiction, specifically among elderly populations, there will be an increase in the number of age-specific tailored programs offered and a subsequent reduction in substance abuse among the elderly population. As a result, society will be able to ensure a better quality of life and health conditions for an aging substance abusers and more preventative measures are enabled through community action groups.
To learn more about this project, please visit the Finnish Blue Ribbon project site. (In Finnish only)