Alcohol abuse can put the elderly at risk for internal bleeding, heart problems and difficulties in
breathing. Alcohol-related illnesses are a major cause of premature death. Among persons older than 65, moderate and heavy drinkers are 16 times more likely than nondrinkers to die of suicide. Less than half of alcoholics over 65 are diagnosed, a Penn State study has shown, because often the telltale signs of alcohol dependence are masked by patient denial and seeming good health. Alcohol abuse also contributes to increased risk of falls, as well as emergency hospitalization for adverse alcohol and drug events in older Americans.

H.E.L.P. recently completed a Strategic Plan that prioritizes our efforts to assist seniors with substance abuse issues, as stated in Goal #4:

Develop resources/partnerships that enhance senior wellbeing.

Objective 4.1. Develop partnerships that nurture priorities of:
1. Access to healthcare, 2. Help with substance abuse, 3. Financial stability, 4. Avoiding scams and elder abuse, 5. Retaining cognitive stability.

The action items for Substance Abuse in Goal #4 are:

4.2.1 Build on foundation of current substance abuse pilot program by extending education program to more low income areas.
4.2.2 Update website to make access to substance abuse resources more user-friendly; build substance recovery resources.
4.2.3 Increase outreach to senior living facilities and senior centers to provide education programs on substance abuse.
4.2.4 Network with substance recovery programs to offer client counseling and education on jobs, housing, finances, healthcare, entitlement programs, and other support.
4.2.5 Build referral list of recovery programs in the South Bay.