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Taking the Function out of 'Functional Alcoholic'

answered 05:25 PM EST, Wed September 26, 2012
anonymous anonymous
I think the best way to describe my dad is that he is a functional alcoholic. He can drink from noon to bedtime but he keeps it pretty much together until the evening and he has been drinking this way his whole adult life as far as I can remember. We were worried that it would get worse after he retired but it didn’t seem to really change. Now he has dementia and he is no longer supposed to drink because it makes him noticeably more confused. But he is not really willing to change his habits of a lifetime which is understandable, but this makes things doubly hard on my mom. It is hard already for her to be watching him decline mentally and to be taking care of him but he is also getting a bit more aggressive when drunk then he ever used to be. I think this is probably as a result of his struggles to deal with what he knows is happening to him. Anyway, we don’t know what to do. How can we convince a man in his early 70s to change his lifetime habits when he doesn’t want to change?

Jeannie Cameron Says...

Jeannie Cameron J. Cameron
MS, NCC, LMHC, CAP
Facebook

In the recovery community the three ends to alcoholism are: jails, institutions and death, guaranteed.

You stated that your father had been drinking for as long as you can remember and that he was now in his early 70's though you did not mention what kind of dementia your father has. There is good reason to believe that your father's drinking is correlated with his dementia, as drinking is one of the risk factors, as well as the quantity and length of time he's been drinking. His continuous drinking also poses the disease to advance and accelerate putting your mother in greater danger of the mood altering behaviors that accompany this dementing illness. The emotional and physical burden of caring for someone with dementia can be overwhelming as round-the-clock nursing demands increase. The situation may need to be monitored to assess the need of a full-time nursing home as in some instances the home environment may present many dangers and obstacles to a person with dementia.

This is not a time that your family can perform intervention as it is far too late for that. There is no way to reverse or stop the disease as the brain cells, gray matter, nerves and areas effected continue to decline. There are medications to treat symptoms but with your father continuing to drink I'm not quiet sure if a doctor would prescribe any. I do hope someone is being honest with his doctor and reporting his continued drinking. Aggressive behavior can accelerate to dangerous levels unexpectedly and your mother could be at risk. People with dementia need supervision to prevent them from harming themselves and others. They also need assistance with daily activities such as eating, bathing, and dressing. Meeting these needs takes patience and understanding and careful thought by the person's 'caregivers' (operative word here). One person cannot do this job, especially one that is being abused by the demented person and has no breaks and has limited resources. Please protect your mother as your father no longer has his faculties to make rational decisions and sound judgements. Please find resources below that can get you started in finding and understanding the proper care your family needs in caring for your father.

www.JohnsHopkinsHealthAlerts.com

Ask a Neurologist Now : www.JustAnswer.com

Family Caregiver Alliance / National Center on Caregiving

785 Market St

San Francisco, CA 94104

info@caregiver.org

Tel: 415-434-3388

800-445-8106

National Family Cargivers Association

10400 Connecticut Ave

Suite 500

10400 Connecticut Ave

Suite 500

Kensington, MD. 20895-3944

info@thefamilycaregiver.org

www.thefamilycaregiver.org

Sincerely,

Jeannie Cameron, LMHC

www.Jcameronlmhc.com

Naples, FL

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Page last updated Nov 17, 2012

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