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Understanding older adults' attitudes and beliefs about drinking: perspectives of residents in congregate living

  • KAREN BURRUSS (a1), PAUL SACCO (a1) and CRISTAN A. SMITH (a2)

Abstract

Drinking motives may change as adults age, yet few studies in the United States of America have examined older adults' perspectives about their own drinking habits. The current study explored beliefs and attitudes of alcohol use of retired adults residing in a congregate care setting in the Baltimore/Washington DC metro area. Individual interviews were conducted with a sub-sample of 11 individuals who participated in a daily diary study on alcohol use among older adults. All participants in the study were identified as regular drinkers, meaning they had an alcoholic beverage on at least six of the eight days prior to screening. The participants' mean age was 81.5 years with a majority being women (54.5%). Older adults reported alcohol use as a long-term habit or routine. Participants also recognised that their alcohol use was influenced by peer drinking and by the availability of alcohol at the congregate care setting. Participants normalised their drinking as a form of routine socialisation carried from earlier life stages. Participants did not report reactive drinking, suggesting that older drinkers do not see their alcohol use as driven by specific reactions to life stresses or losses associated with ageing. The study also indicates that drinking may provide older adults in congregate care with a sense of continuity from before retirement and preserve their identity and autonomy.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Karen Burruss, School of Social Work, University of Maryland Baltimore, 525 West Redwood Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA. E-mail: kburruss@ssw.umaryland.edu

References

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Understanding older adults' attitudes and beliefs about drinking: perspectives of residents in congregate living

  • KAREN BURRUSS (a1), PAUL SACCO (a1) and CRISTAN A. SMITH (a2)

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