Alcohol Use and Older Adults

Frequently Asked Questions

15. What are signs of a drinking problem?

It’s not always obvious that someone drinks too much. Clues that may point to a drinking problem in an older adult include

  • memory loss
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • poor appetite
  • unexplained bruises
  • falls
  • sleeping problems
  • inattention to cleanliness or appearance.

Answering "yes" to at least one of the following questions is also a sign of a possible drinking problem:

  • Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
  • Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
  • Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, talk with your health care provider. Also seek help if you feel you are having drinking-related problems with your health, relationships, or work.

For help cutting back on your drinking, see "Thinking About a Change?" from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).