Is it time to “take the keys” to the liquor cabinet?

It’s a happy time. The whole family has come together for a holiday meal together and now, it’s time for a toast. On break from College, this is the first time that Junior is able to join in. It’s now that it occurs to you… Should Pop be drinking with all his medication? He’s already got a wine glass in hand and is having a laugh with Junior. You have to make a choice, do you cause a scene or do you risk his health by letting him drink?

Family toasting over holiday meal, should Seniors be included?It’s a question that often comes up at the last minute, when the bottle’s uncorked and you’re about to pour. Should you serve alcohol to a Senior? There isn’t one answer, but with the right information a Caregiver can make the right judgment call.

The importance of Drinking.

Drinking alcohol, like driving, is often seen as a rite of passage, something that separates children from adults. Caregivers should be aware that restricting a Senior’s use of alcohol may be received as attacking their adulthood.

Reasons to “Take the Keys” to the liquor cabinet.

Unlike driving, there are few guides that help Caregivers decide if a Senior should “turn in the keys” to the liquor cabinet. Here are some reasons to think about restricting a Senior’s access to alcohol.

  • Dangerous Alcohol and Medication Interactions: Many medications can have dangerous interactions with alcohol that lead to increased risk of illness, injury, or even death. The elderly are especially at risk due to the large amounts of medication they often take.
  • Increased Effect of Alcohol: Several studies have shown that Alcohol has an increased effect on most Seniors, reducing their ability to function to a greater extent and for a longer period of time. This can be especially dangerous for Seniors suffering from cognitive impairment.
  • Worsen Medical Conditions: Alcohol can worsen certain medical conditions, such as High Blood Pressure and Ulcers.
  • Increased Risk of Injury: Drinking alcohol can greatly increase a Senior’s risk of injury from falls.
  • Late Onset Alcoholism: Depression, social isolation, and physical pain can lead to Seniors abusing Alcohol later in life. This is a growing problem in the United States and one that often goes overlooked.
  • Malnutrition: Drinking large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis can flood a Senior’s system with empty calories, quenching appetite and causing malnutrition without weight loss.

The Checklist

If you can answer ‘yes’ to any of the items on the following check list, it may be time to take control of your elderly loved one’s access to alcohol.

  1. Is there a risk of dangerous interaction between Alcohol and the Senior’s Medication? Is the Senior no longer able to respond appropriately to this risk?
  2. Does the Senior have a medical condition that is exacerbated by alcohol consumption? Is the Senior no longer able to respond appropriately to this condition?
  3. Does even a small amount of alcohol have an exaggerated effect on the Senior? Is the Senior no longer able to drink responsibly?
  4. Are there signs that the Senior is at higher risk of incidental injuries such as falls when they drink alcohol? Is the Senior no longer able to respond appropriately to this danger?
  5. Is the Senior showing a signs of Alcohol abuse? Do those signs merit an intervention?

This guide is meant to educate and inform, it is not meant to be a substitute for a Medical Doctor’s advice. The best judge of whether a Senior should give up drinking is their Doctor and a Caregiver should always consult with a Doctor if they’re worried about a Senior drinking.

Preserving health, dignity, and relationship

Refusing to serve alcohol to an elderly loved one might leave them feeling embarrassed, excluded, and like you stripped them of their adulthood. It might result in a nasty scene and hurt feelings, ruining what had been a happy time together. With some forethought you can set up a compromise that preserves both a Senior’s dignity and their health.

  • Talk to the Senior’s Doctor about your concerns beforehand, don’t wait until the family toast to think about alcohol.
  • Talk to the Senior beforehand, tell them your concerns and ask them to compromise. Let them know that you want them to be part of the family traditions but that you’re worried about their health.
  • Serve Low-Alcohol Beverages like ‘Near Beer’ or a light ‘Mixed Drink’; lowering the alcohol content can go a long way, just be sure to always check with the Senior’s Doctor first.
  • Serve Non-Alcoholic Beer like O’Doul’s instead of alcoholic beer or Sparkling Grape Juice instead of Champagne.

These suggestions might not be enough to prevent hurt feelings or wounded pride, but in the end the important thing to remember is that you’re not stealing your loved one’s dignity – you’re trying to protect their health.

More Information

To help equip you to make an informed decision we’ve compiled some additional information that we hope proves helpful.

Some Medications that interact dangerously with Alcohol.

The following are some common medications that can interact dangerously with alcohol. This is by no means a definitive list and to be safe always check the medication warning labels and consult with the Senior’s Doctor.

  • Antibiotics are a common medication used to fight off infectious diseases.
  • Anticoagulants are prescribed to impede the blood’s ability to clot.
  • Antidepressants are an increasingly medication used to counter clinical depression.
  • Oral hypoglycemic drugs help lower blood sugar levels for some individuals suffering from diabetes.
  • Antihistamines are commonly taken to lessen allergic symptoms and to treat insomnia.
  • Antipsychotic drugs are prescribed to lessen psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations.
  • Antiseizure medications are primarily prescribed to treat epilepsy.
  • Cardiovascular medications are prescribed to treat heart and circulatory system ailments.
  • Narcotic pain relievers are prescribed to lessen moderate to severe pain.
  • Nonnarcotic pain relievers are the most common nonprescription pain relievers and are commonly used by the elderly.

Many other medications can have dangerous interactions with alcohol so, again, to be safe always consult with the Senior’s Doctor. It’s a good idea to keep a list of all medications that the Senior is taking, including over the counter drugs and supplements, on hand to check with the Doctor.

Benefits of Drinking for Seniors?

Light to Moderate Drinking
No more than 14 drinks a week
No more than 2 drinks a day

Several studies have shown that Seniors who drink light to moderate amounts of alcohol also have a lower risk of certain ailments. There are still a lot of unknowns in these studies but the message seems to be that ‘moderation may be best after all.‘ Let’s take a closer look at a handful of the studies.

The results of a study conducted by the David Geffen School of Medicine found that healthy Seniors who drank light or moderate amounts of alcohol were almost 25% less likely to suffer from incident disability or death as compared to non-drinkers or heavy drinkers.

Three Seniors in living room drinking champagne and smiling

Researchers from the Tulane University studied 35 studies and discovered that individuals who drink one to two alcoholic drinks a day were almost 30% less likely to have a stroke than non-drinkers. The same study also found the disturbing correlation that heavy drinkers were almost 70% more likely to have a stroke.

Several studies have shown that individuals who drank light to moderate alcoholic drinks were less likely to suffer from heart disease. The same studies also showed that heavy drinkers were more likely to suffer from heart disease.

The material of this blog is provided for informational purposes only. Elder Depot does not intend to provide medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment. Please consult with a Medical Professional when deciding if a Senior should drink alcohol.

10 Things to do on Father’s Day

With strength fading and independence slipping away, many elderly Fathers feel lost and out of place. Father’s Day offers us a great chance to celebrate and honor them but many of us have trouble with the how… There is no one answer as every father is unique but here are a few suggestions.

  1. Take Him out to the Ball Game – Father’s Day is the third weekend in June, a great time to catch a game. Order tickets early, get great seats, and consider a special surprise – like an autographed ball, a picture with the mascot, or a message on the score board.
  2. Hang with the Grandkids – Few things can make a Grandfather feel like part of the family like Grandkids who want to be with him. If you need to bridge the generational gap, try the Wii – let Granddad get some ‘street cred’ by trouncing the kids at bowling.
  3. Skype Reunion – You might remember me recommending Skype as a great free software gift for Dad. Here’s a chance to take it a step further, coordinate with your Dad’s old buddies to arrange for a great big Skype reunion. Hopefully this will open the door for regular video chats.
  4. Quickest Way to a Man’s Heart – Get Dad his favorite meal, take him out if you can or take it to him if you can’t. If he drinks, remember to double check his medication before buying him a beer. He might want to contribute, if he does a good compromise is to remind him that dinner is your treat but ask him to get the tip.
  5. Favorite Shared Pastime – Chances are that your Dad gave you a love of one of his pastimes. Consider taking your Dad out for a few hours of your favorite shared pastime; fishing, golfing, crafting, gardening, etc. Tell him how meaningful sharing this pastime has been to you over the years.
  6. Movie Marathon – Is your Dad a huge fan of John Wayne, Bob Hope, Katharine Hepburn, Groucho Marx, or other vintage film stars? Consider a three movie marathon of his favorites with lots of snacks. Get the whole family involved if you can without drama, this is about enjoying his favorites together as a family not giving him lonely reign over the entertainment system for a few hours.
  7. Daddy’s Little Girl – You may be a influential professional or a successful parent yourself, but in many Dad’s eyes their daughter is always first and foremost their Little Girl. It can be hard to step back into that role but its a surefire way to make many Fathers feel like they still belong in the family. Let Dad feel like a provider; listen to his advice or let him treat you to a coffee, basically let him do something for you even though you don’t need him to.
  8. Classic Game Night – Break out the classic card and board games for a good time with Dad and the whole family. Play games he already knows the rules for; games like Monopoly, Hearts, Canasta, or Pokeno. Remember to play with Large Print Playing Cards if Dad is visually impaired.
  9. His Greatest Adventure – Did Dad live overseas, serve in the military, meet someone famous, or do something else that might qualify as an adventure? Remind him of it and get him to tell the story one more time, even if you’ve heard it hundreds of times already. Get the kids to hear it too if you can without too much drama.
  10. Cherished Memory Book – Get in touch with everyone whose life your Dad has touched; ask them each to send you a letter to him along with some photographs. Put them together into a scrapbook commemorating him and letting him know that he’s not forgotten. Not only will it make him feel special now, years from now it stands to become a treasured family heirloom holding memories that would otherwise be forgotten.

After a lifetime in the role, many Fathers feel insecure after they step out of the provider role for their families. Because of this it is important to avoid anything that might make Dad feel unwelcome. Chances are that you don’t see eye to eye with Dad on everything but, at least for Father’s Day, try to let remarks and points of contention slide. Be gracious and patient, focus on the good and avoid drama. Remember, your goal is to celebrate and honor Dad, not get drawn into old arguments.

Our Collection of Father Quotes

How pleasant it is for a father to sit at his child’s board. It is like an aged man reclining under the shadow of an oak which he has planted.

I’ve had a hard life, but my hardships are nothing against the hardships that my father went through in order to get me to where I started.
Bartrand Hubbard

My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.
Clarence Budington Kelland

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.
Mark Twain

I talk and talk and talk, and I haven’t taught people in 50 years what my father taught by example in one week.
Mario Cuomo

My father, when he went, made my childhood a gift of a half a century.
Antonio Porchia

Nothing I’ve ever done has given me more joys and rewards than being a father to my children.
Bill Cosby

It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.
Harper Lee

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.
Charles Wadsworth

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.
Jim Valvano

By profession, I am a soldier and take pride in that fact. But I am prouder – infinitely prouder – to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build; the father only builds, never destroys. The one has the potentiality of death; the other embodies creation and life. And while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle field but in the home repeating with him our simple daily prayer, ‘Our Father who art in Heaven.’
Douglas Macarthur

The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering-galleries, they are clearly heard at the end and by posterity.
Jean Paul Richter

Being a father, being a friend, those are the things that make me feel successful.
William Hurt

I learned from the example of my father that the manner in which one endures what must be endured is more important than the thing that must be endured.
Dean Acheson

My father died many years ago, and yet when something special happens to me, I talk to him secretly not really knowing whether he hears, but it makes me feel better to half believe it.
Natasha Josefowitz

It is much easier to become a father than to be one.
Kent Nerburn

My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard.  Mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass.”  “We’re not raising grass,” Dad would reply.  “We’re raising boys.”
Harmon Killebrew

I am not ashamed to say that no man I ever met was my father’s equal, and I never loved any other man as much.
Hedy Lamarr

You know, fathers just have a way of putting everything together.
Erika Cosby

One night a father overheard his son pray: Dear God, Make me the kind of man my Daddy is. Later that night, the Father prayed, Dear God, Make me the kind of man my son wants me to be.

A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.

Can you relate to any of our quotations? Do you have a quote that you’d like us to add to our collection? Please, let us know!

The Spirit of ’45 ~ Kissing the War Away

The generation that lived through the storm of World War II has been called the Greatest Generation. This Memorial Day that generation is close to fading into history, the coming years will hold our last chances to hear them in the flesh.

Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive! is a non-profit organization collecting stories from that generation and encouraging later generations to listen to those who lived through history while they still can. The story of Edith Shain is part of their collection.

I’m a nurse working at Doctors’ Hospital in Manhattan. The radio in my patient’s room is playing “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree”. My patient is taking the medication I handed to him.

The music is interrupted with an announcement that Japan has surrendered and the war is over…

I’m stunned, incredulous, and joyful. Fifteen minutes later, after removing my cap, I’m running to the subway. I get on the train to Times Square.

When I get there, I run up the steps and to the street, walk a short distance.

I’m surrounded by jubilation. Soldiers, sailors, old and young civilians. I celebrate with them.

A sailor puts his arm around me, bends me back, holds me, and gives me a long kiss. I close my eyes. When he releases me, I turn in the opposite direction and walk away.


The sailor is a symbol of all who fought in the horrific savagery of the war who shared courage, responsibility, and commitment.

We at home were with you.

Now, we are all together; the combination of all of our efforts.

Now, the empty spaces will be filled.

Now, the broken pieces will be put together.

Now, relationships will be repaired.

Now, we have peace.

This Memorial Day ask someone who lived through World War II to share their story.