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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2000 Aug;24(8):1257-66.

Treatment of older women with alcohol problems: meeting the challenge for a special population.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, and Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Ann Arbor 48108, USA.


As a larger proportion of the U.S. population reaches late life, there are new challenges to providing quality health care services for this group. Record numbers of adults over 60 are seeking health care for acute and chronic conditions. Older women represent the largest single group of health care users in this country. Twelve percent of older women regularly drink in excess of recommended guidelines (no more than one drink per day or seven drinks per week) and can be considered at-risk drinkers. Problems related to alcohol use and misuse can seriously affect many of the health concerns common among older women, including chronic illnesses and depression. Older women have specific risks and vulnerabilities to alcohol use, which include a swifter progression to alcohol-related illness. However, women in later life who have alcohol problems are underscreened and underdiagnosed, have significant barriers in accessing health care, and respond differentially to standard specialized treatment protocols. To date, research on these topics has been limited. Furthermore, there is a paucity of research focused on treatment outcomes for elderly adults with alcohol problems, with almost no emphasis on women. This paper presents the state of knowledge about alcohol health services for older women and provides recommendations for necessary future health services research on this vulnerable population.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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