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Older adults' health and late-life drinking patterns: a 20-year perspective.

Moos RH, Brennan PL, Schutte KK, Moos BS. Older adults' health and late-life drinking patterns: a 20-year perspective. Aging & mental health. 2010 Jan 1; 14(1):33-43.

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OBJECTIVES: This study focused on the associations between older adults'' health-related problems and their late-life alcohol consumption and drinking problems. METHODS: A sample of 719 late-middle-aged community residents (55-65 years old at baseline) participated in a survey of health and alcohol consumption and this survey was followed 10 years and 20 years later. RESULTS: Health-related problems increased and alcohol consumption and drinking problems declined over the 20-year interval. Medical conditions, depressive symptoms, medication use, and acute health events were associated with a higher likelihood of abstinence; acute health events were also associated with less alcohol consumption. In contrast, reliance on alcohol to reduce pain was linked to more alcohol consumption. Moreover, an individual''s overall health burden and reliance on alcohol to reduce pain were associated with more drinking problems. Reliance on alcohol to reduce pain potentiated the association between health burden, alcohol consumption and drinking problems. CONCLUSION: Older adults who have more health problems and rely on alcohol to manage pain are at elevated risk for drinking problems. Health care providers should target high-risk older adults, such as those who drink to reduce pain, for screening and brief interventions to help them identify new ways to cope with pain and curtail their drinking.

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