Masters Thesis

Investigating Problematic Drinking, Stress, and Physical Health in Older Adults Using Daily Reported Measures

There is an urgent need to understand emerging health risks in the growing population of older adults in the U.S. Many older adults may be consuming alcohol beyond the recommended limits for their age, putting themselves at risk for serious health complications. Using participants from the MIDUS and NSDE studies, the prevalence of risky drinking was studied in a sample of older adults aged 50+. Risky drinking criteria were based on the NIAAA recommendation for adults 65 and older: no more than seven drinks per week and no more than three drinks in a day. Utilizing a sample of drinkers, logistic regression analysis examined if gender, age, education level, physical health, purpose in life, and total daily stress over seven days predicted participants’ classification as risky drinkers. Results found that 31% of the sample’s drinkers were found to be consuming more than the recommended limits for their age. Additionally, total daily stress was associated with education level and physical health was associated with age. These findings confirm the prevalence of risky drinking in older adults, which has been described as a “silent epidemic”, and suggest there may be unexplored factors that contribute to this risky behavior. More research should be directed at investigating the different factors that contribute to risky drinking behaviors in older adults, as drinking and drug use behaviors are projected to grow in the population of older adults.


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