Alcohol Abuse Treatment Among the Elderly

Introduction

Alcohol abuse among the elderly is an issue that has raised concern among the medical practitioners and the society in general. According to Ham (2007), abuse of alcohol by the aging individuals may pose serious health problem to the victims because of the reduced ability of the body system to manage the toxic substance in the alcohol. It is important to note that the abuse of alcohol by the elderly also affects people around them both socially and economically. When such an individual becomes physically or verbally abusive to the members of the society, the effect of the alcohol abuse will be felt by many people. Sometimes members of the family are forced to clean soiled clothes of these drunkards, something that many consider demeaning. When their health deteriorates because of the alcohol abuse, members of the family will be forced to spend money in order to treat them. For this reason, it is important to treat this problem before it can bring a series of negative effects on the victims or their families. In this research, the focus will be to identify some of the best ways through which alcohol abuse among the elderly can be treated.

Rationale for the research

Alcohol abuse among the elderly has affected the society from various perspectives. When an old person consumes high amount of alcohol, Marshall (2000) says that the body may not be able to eliminate the alcohol content from the body within the required period. The scholar explains that this is so because most of the activities in body system have been slowed. It means that the alcohol content will take longer time in the body, especially in sensitive organs such as the liver and kidneys, than is usually the case among the active adults. These organs will be affected by the alcoholic substances, which may lead to a series of medical complications such as liver cirrhosis. Health problems that the elderly people develop will not only affect them, but also their families, and the government. Their families will have to pay for their treatment in order to save their lives. The government will be forced to spend more on the medical sector to meet the increasing demand for healthcare. Socially, alcohol abuse may have a series of negative effects to the victim, the society and members of their families. When one takes alcohol and starts misbehaving, his dignity and that of his entire family will be lost. In some cases, they may become aggressive, and this may affect other innocent members of the society. For this reason, it is necessary to address this problem in order to have a society that is free from such consequences both to the victims and people around them.

Scholars have conducted massive research in this field in order to determine the best ways that can be used to address the problem in order to protect the elderly and people around them. According to Yoshida (2006), this field has been under active research for over two decades. However, it was evident that there are some ambiguities in some of these pieces of research. For instance, it is not yet clear who the real victims in alcohol abuse among the elderly are within the society. The approach to be taken is also not yet clear because different experts are emphasizing on different approaches. Some of the recent researches have been proposing a combination of both counselling and medical treatment as the best way of dealing with this problem. It is necessary to come up with an approach that would be universally acceptable to the experts, and this is the aim of the research. If this is achieved, then many people stand to benefit from the solution that shall have been developed. The elderly drunkards will be protected from the socio-economic and health problems they have been facing after taking alcohol. Their families will be liberated from the problems they have to face after their loved ones have taken alcohol. The society will be liberated from the problems caused by the old drunkards. The government expenditure on health will also be reduced.

Aim of the review

This research will be specifically focused on finding the best treatment to the problem of alcohol abuse among the elderly. The research will not involve collection of primary sources of data from the individuals who have been victims to the problem, or the experts who have been trying to address the problem from various perspectives. The research will only rely on the secondary sources of data in order to find solution to this problem. The researcher believes that by the end of this research, there will be clear information on how to deal with the problem. The following are some of the specific objectives that the researcher seeks to achieve from this review.

  • To identify any conflicting information in the current literatures on how to deal with the problem of alcohol abuse among the elderly.
  • To determine why these conflicts in the existing literatures are arising when experts try to explain how to address the problem.
  • To identify any misconception that any of the previous researchers could have had in their study that could have lead to differing opinions.
  • To identify the level of validity in different pieces of research that will be used in order to determine the reliability of their conclusions.
  • To come up with a comprehensive plan, based on the reviewed literatures, on how to address the problem of alcohol abuse among the elderly.
  • To identify some of the specific roles that can be done by the society and family members of the elderly in order to help address the problem of alcohol abuse among the elderly.
  • Propose a clear approach that should be taken by future researchers who will be interested in advancing knowledge in this field.

Upon completion of this research, it is expected that all of the above objectives shall be achieved. This will not only help in addressing the current problem, but also play a pivotal role in guiding future scholars. It will play an important role in guiding the policy makers and families caring for elderly alcoholics.

Research questions and hypothesis

Conducting a research is a complex process that involves collecting relevant data, analysing them, and drawing conclusion from the analysis. According to Fink (2010), when a researcher gets into the field to collect data, he or she will be encountered by massive sources of information, most of which may not be focusing on the research topic. Sometimes researchers would be swayed from the topic to other irrelevant information that may affect the quality of data collected from the field. Research questions play an important role in narrowly defining the data that should be collected from the field. This helps in avoiding the possibility that the researcher may get into the process of collecting irrelevant data from the field. In this study, the researcher developed the following research questions to help in guiding the process of data collection.

To what extent are the elderly affected socially and economically from their abuse of alcohol?

This question was formulated to help in determining the social and economic harm that the elderly expose themselves to when they engage in alcohol abuse. This question was developed based on the findings of Lowinson 2005, p. 56) which revealed that many adults continue to lose their lives because of the abuse of alcohol. The following data was taken from this source.

Fatality Rates Related to Alcohol Abuse among the Elderly in U.S. 1979-1993
Figure 1: Fatality Rates Related to Alcohol Abuse among the Elderly in U.S. 1979-1993

This information that was taken from CDC data clearly shows a consistent rise in the rate of fatalities among the elderly in cases that is related with alcohol abuse. However, it is important to note that this data shows the trend from 1979 to 1993. This question will help in collecting more recent data. It will help in determining the current trend in order to determine if the relevant stakeholders are making positive progress in order to reverse this negative trend.

What are some of the health consequences of alcohol abuse among the elderly?

The literature reviewed on this topic shows that alcohol abuse among the elderly has some serious negative impacts, especially if it is not properly controlled. Some of the researchers noted that the excessive alcohol abuse may lead to some serious health consequences, top of which is liver cirrhosis. It is important to confirm these claims by analysing other scholarly articles and books in order to get clear information on this topic.

How is the society affected from the abuse of alcohol among the elderly?

This question focused on the effect that alcohol abuse among the elderly has on the society. According to Goldberg (2010, p. 45), the elderly rely on the able-bodied adults for various needs. Some of them are always too weak to undertake some chores on their own. When they engage in alcohol abuse, managing them becomes even more stressful to their family members. This scholar notes that some of them would even become violent after taking alcohol. The table below shows the relationship between violence and drug and alcohol abuse among the elderly.

Relationship between violence and drug and alcohol abuse
Figure 2: Relationship between violence and drug and alcohol abuse

Lowinson (2005, p. 121) noted that men tend to be more violent after taking alcohol than women, a claim that is supported by the data in the figure above. In this study, the researcher will try to confirm if this is still the case, and what can be done to address the issue.

What are some of the conflicting information about the approach to be taken when addressing the problem of alcohol abuse among the elderly?

This question is very important because it seeks to identify conflicting information about the approach to be taken when addressing alcohol abuse among the elderly. The internet is full of information on how this issue can be addressed, and some of them are very misleading. Through this question, the researcher will be able to identify some of the common misconceptions about the issue and come up with the valid approach that can be taken to discredit some of the leading information that is available through various sources. The society will be informed about these misconceptions, and the need to ignore them in order to avoid negative consequences that they may have on one’s life.

What is the best approach of addressing the problem of alcohol abuse among the elderly?

This question is closely related to the above question. After identifying the misconceptions and conflicting information that is available on how to address alcohol abuse among the elderly, the next important stage would be to identify the valid approach that can be used. This will involve a detailed justification why the approach suggested is considered superior to other existing strategies, and the stakeholders who should be involved in the process.

What are some of the specific roles that should be played by different stakeholders when addressing the problem of alcohol abuse among the elderly?

This last question is related to the question above. In this section, the researcher will investigate the role of various stakeholders in addressing the problem of alcohol abuse among the elderly. It will involve identifying these stakeholders, and explaining their role in the fight against this social problem.

Each of the questions above is expected to direct the researcher into looking for specific information from the sources available in order to obtain specific answers to them. Any information that does not directly respond to the above questions will be considered irrelevant. Based on the above questions, the researcher developed some research hypotheses below.

  • H1. The elderly alcoholics are the worst affected group by the effects of alcohol abuse.
  • H2. The society is socially and economically affected by the problem of alcohol abuse by the elderly.
  • H3. The best way of addressing the problem of alcohol abuse by the elderly should involve both medical and psychological strategies.
  • H4. Every member of the society has a strategic role to play when addressing the problem of alcohol abuse among the elderly.

The researcher will use secondary sources of data in order to determine if the above hypotheses are true or not.

Review Strategy

According to Basit (2010), conducting a review requires a proper strategy that would help identifying the right sources of data, determining the validity of the sources, and compiling a comprehensive and reliable report based on these sources. Given that this research will purely involve data collected from secondary sources, it was important to develop a proper strategy that would help in identify the relevant sources of data. The search strategy will be defined from two approaches. The first approach will involve identification of published sources of information on the topic that can be found in their print form. Using the search term, ‘Treatment of alcohol abuse among the elderly’, the researcher will visit the school library in order to search for books which are relevant to this topic. Some terms may be included or excluded based on the circumstances during the search. For instance, the name of a city may be included to identify some of the cities that are worst affected. The term abuse may also be excluded or substituted by another term during the search. Peer reviewed journals will also form an important source of information for this topic, and they too will be taken from the school library. The researcher will also use newspapers from some of the reputable media houses in the country to help back up the information that will be available from other print sources.

The researcher will heavily rely on the online sources of information when collecting data. Using online sources of information will be the second approach of collecting information for this research. Some of the relevant books for this research may be readily available through online sources. Most of the journal articles that will be used in this study are expected to come from online databases. Some of the databases that are reliable enough to provide relevant journal articles for this research include JSTOR, Oxford Journals, NCBI Databases, CINAHL, AMED, EMBASE, MDELINE, and EBSCO. These are reputable databases which have reliable peer reviewed journals that may offer the researcher a good source of information for the research. The researcher has also developed a strategy of collecting grey literature. This will be collected from the school or public libraries by directly engaging the librarians and asking for their help in identifying such materials. The researcher will also make direct request to some of the scholars who authored such materials within this institution.

It is very important to assess the quality of the literature before including it as part of the sources in the research. The validity of the literature will be determined using a validated checklist by analysing the method used in arriving at the conclusion, the sample size used, the authority that the authors command in that field, and what other scholars say about the particular literature. The plan that will be used in the synthesis of the information from the identified studies will be defined by the objectives above. The plan must lead the researcher into achieving the above objectives. It means that it will start by identifying the relevant literatures using the search term identified above, determining the validity of the literatures, and then conducting a comprehensive review of the selected literatures. Of interest will be to identify the strategies proposed by each, any conflicts, the reasons for the conflicts, and the way forward in addressing the issue. Although a meta-analysis may be necessary at this stage, it would not be included in this research.

Analysis and Synthesis of Data

The research will only rely on the data collected from books, journal articles, newspapers, and other relevant online sources. The analysis of this data will involve careful analysis of the findings of these authors, identification of any conflict of the information they present, the validity of their research process, and the ethical procedures they followed. When synthesising the information from these sources, this research will be keen to base conclusion on the studies valid and reliable.

Resources required

According to Fink (2010), it is always necessary to define all resources that may be required before starting the implementation process in order to determine the feasibility of the project. It is always common for such projects to fail along the way because the project’s needs were not clearly defined. The research will need some specific resources that will need to be used in order to achieve the desired result from this project. The first resource that will be needed for this research will be time to conduct the research. There are stages that will be involved in collecting data, and at each stage, it will be important to define time needed to complete all the activities. This is defined in the Gantt chart below. Books, journal articles, and magazines found in the school library will be other resources that will be needed in this study. Stable internet connectivity and a personal computer, most preferably a laptop, will be necessary in data collection and compilation of the report. The researcher may also need an amount of money not exceeding $ 700 dollars in order to subscribe to some of the databases mentioned above, and to complete some of the tasks that may need some form of payment. This will include printing and binding services once the document has been finalised. The researcher will also obtain the necessary permissions from relevant authorities at different stages of this research. This is not only meant to maintain ethics in the research, but also to ensure that the researcher gets relevant guidance from the authorities whenever it may be necessary.

Work plan

It is important to understand the work plan that will be used in this research process in order to help in defining its feasibility. The research will involve a series of activities which will be conducted in a systematic manner. The Gantt chart below shows the specific activities that will be carried out in this research process. Each of the planned activities will have a specific timeframe within which it has to be accomplished. This will help in determining the total time that will be needed to complete the project.

Work plan

The first activity will be proposal development. The researcher will develop a research proposal that will define all the activities that will take place in this research process. Given the nature of this research, development of the proposal may take one month because it will also involve identifying all the resources that will be used in the research. Approval of the proposal is expected to be complete within 14 days, after which the researcher will start collecting the needed data. The next activity will be reviewing of the literatures which will then be followed by compiling the report. Typing of this report will take about five days.

Ethics

According to Dening (2013, p. 54) it is important to maintain ethics when conducting a piece of research. The research will be used by various people for different purposes. This informative report will be valuable to the policy makers in understand some of the pertinent issues concerning alcohol abuse among the elderly. The report will identify the stakeholders and their roles in addressing alcohol abuse among the elderly. For this reason, the information presented in this document must be credible. It must be founded on factual informative from authoritative sources. This will ensure that the information does not mislead people who may rely on it to take various actions. It means that the researcher will need to maintain ethics at every stage of this research. This section will critically evaluate how this research upheld ethics in various stages.

One way of maintaining ethics will be to avoid biasness when collecting information. According to Goldberg (2010, p. 34), some scholars always ignore literatures that seem to go contrary to their values. This is an unethical behaviour because it ignores the importance of such contrary opinions. In this study, the researcher was keen to analyse conflicting views in order to have a holistic view of this issue. This way, it was possible to explain where the scholars with conflicting views went wrong in coming up with their conclusion. This also helps in addressing some of the controversies that may confuse policy makers and other stakeholders.

According to Dening (2013, p. 78), it is always ethical to identify some of the weaknesses of a research in order to help the users of the report to understand the extent to which they can apply the document. There are cases where the consumers of such information require high level of accuracy because of the consequences associated by their decision. They need to know the level of accuracy of a report, and the sources of data that led to the conclusion made in the report. In this study, most of the data will be collected from relevant literatures and other secondary sources found online. For this reason, the researcher identifies the main weakness of this report to be the fear that some information in the report may not reflect the exact events happening today. However, the researcher tried to address this problem by collecting data from current newspapers and journal articles to capture the most recent information available in online sources.

References

Basit, T 2010, Conducting research in educational contexts, Continuum International Publishing Group, New York.

Dening, T 2013, Oxford textbook of old age psychiatry, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Fink, A 2010, Conducting research literature reviews: From the Internet to paper, SAGE, Los Angeles.

Goldberg, R 2010, Drugs across the spectrum, Cengage Learning, Belmont.

Ham, R 2007, Primary care geriatrics: A case-based approach, Mosby Elsevier, Philadelphia.

Lowinson, J 2005, Substance abuse: A comprehensive textbook, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia.

Marshall, R 2000, Alcoholism: Genetic culpability or social irresponsibility: the challenge of innovative methods to determine final outcomes, University Press of America, Lanham.

Yoshida, R 2006, Trends in alcohol abuse and alcoholism research, Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge.