ABSTRACT

Alcoholism is a serious health problem in the nation's elderly. Alcoholism is the third leading killer of adults in the United States (Benshoff and Roberto, 1987) and is the third most common psychiatric diagnosis in elderly men (Ticehurst, 1990). Schuckit and Pastor ( 1978) found that elderly alcohol abusers typically present to medical/surgical units with problems. In a survey of 113 consecutive VA admissions, 20 percent of men met the criteria for alcoholism, with 9 percent actively drinking. Brody ( 1982) estimated that 10 to 15 percent of elderly seeking attention in a medical office abuse alcohol. Curtis et al. ( 1989) surveyed 417 consecutive admissions to the Johns Hopkins Hospital, using standardized screening instruments. Overall, 21 percent of those over age 60 were abusing alcohol.