Older adults and alcohol: healthy or unhealthy pleasure?

At least eighty students, staff, and professionals will be attending online and physically on Wednesday mornings for the master class organized by the Geriatrics Health Care Program and Addiction Care Foundation’s Novadek Kentron. According to program leader Kenny Jansen, the main chapter arose from the PSV ban, which places great emphasis on alcohol-free enjoyment. “Traditionally, the focus has been on young people. But what is the challenge for older people and what can we do for this target group? We will investigate this in this major course, as we work to enhance the expertise of (future) professionals.”

The master class is full of experts. As program leader for the Addiction Academic Workshop, Rob Bovins tells all about whether enjoying alcohol is healthy or actually unhealthy. “We are the toast of our health, while we are unhealthy,” he explains his presentation. “And we do it a lot, because the level of alcohol consumption in the 55- to 75-year-old group has risen sharply in the past two decades.”

Drink out of habit
According to Bovins, those who drink are often unmarried, smoke, often sit on the couch, have a relatively high level of education and a good income and show characteristics of anxiety or panic disorder. “This group often drinks out of habit. We don’t know any better either, because we actually learned it while studying. When you create a career and have kids, it slows down a bit, but once you’re able to, alcohol quickly comes back into the picture again.”

This entails various negative consequences such as sleep problems, increased medication and unsafe participation in traffic. “There are a lot of people who go out for a day on the electric bike, collect some wine and eventually drop in. This results in an increase in hospital visits.”

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Addiction is a disease
However, it does not stop there. The number of people over 55 in addiction care has also increased by at least two and a half years compared to ten years ago. “Alcoholism is a disease, but in our society the prevailing picture is that you don’t want to belong to addiction care, while healthcare professionals want to help you.”

This was confirmed by Novadic account manager Kentron Janneke de Jong and addiction expert Saskia Van Schaik. “Alcohol numbs the brain, causes behavioral changes, speeds up the heartbeat and dehydrates the body. In the long run, alcohol can cause brain damage, Korsakoff syndrome, pancreatitis, liver problems, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. The hell to drink alcohol?” [Tekst gaat verder onder de foto]

Megan Vasquez

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