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Elders’ alcohol use Skidmore study topic

Elders’ alcohol use Skidmore study topic

Survey forms from Skidmore College are going out this week to 1,000 older city residents asking t

Survey forms from Skidmore College are going out this week to 1,000 older city residents asking them about their alcohol use and other quality of life questions.

Crystal Dea Moore, director of Skidmore’s social work program, said the surveys will be mailed Monday and most people should receive them by Wednesday. She is doing a study of alcohol use among older residents that will be compared to a similar study done in Sweden.

The forms are being mailed to a random sample of 1,000 voters older than 65 in the Saratoga Springs ZIP code area.

“It’s a collaborative project,” Moore said. She will be traveling to Sweden early next year to share her findings with university people there.

She said Skidmore College students helped design the survey and mail the envelopes. She is hoping for at least 300 responses.

The brief survey, which is voluntary and anonymous, includes a number of quality of life questions about a person’s health, satisfaction level, depression, and alcohol use.

She sees the survey as an awareness opportunity for older residents as well as part of her scholarly work.

“We see this — helping people to think about their own alcohol use — as a public service,” Moore said.

A national survey done earlier this decade by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported “at risk” alcohol use by 13 percent of men and 8 percent of women responding. An at risk drinker is one who consumes an average of two or more drinks each day, Moore said. In the same study, 14 percent of the men and 3 percent of the women reported “binge” drinking, defined as five or more drinks at the same occasion in one day.

Older adults metabolize alcohol differently and may be taking prescription drugs that could affect their ability to tolerate alcohol, Moore said. Such older adults may be at risk of falling after only one or two drinks.

“This can be detrimental to their independence and quality of life,” Moore said during a telephone interview. She said when some people get older, they still keep the drinking patterns they had when they were middle aged.

The survey will include 24 questions and is expected to take about seven minutes to complete. Those filling out the survey are asked not to affix a personal address label to the envelope. Moore said if there is any kind of personal identification on the survey or envelope the survey form must be discarded.

Moore will travel to Gothenburg University in Sweden early next year on a fellowship provided by the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation and Research and High Education. She will spend three months in the university’s Department of Social Medicine where she will work on projects involving the promotion of health and well being of older adults.

Data collected from the survey will be compared with similar data collected on older Swedes.

Moore said she hopes her research will raise awareness about alcohol consumption among older adults and their families.

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