Alcohol and drugs

Alcohol misuse (see Chapter 13) may become a problem in old age, but is often concealed. Depression, loneliness, and boredom, perhaps following the death of a spouse, are common precipitants. Drug misuse (see Chapter 12) usually involves prescribed drugs, such as benzodiazepines, which often cause ataxia and cognitive impairment in this age group. If an elderly person with unrecognized alcohol or drug dependence develops an intercurrent illness and/or is admitted to hospital, withdrawal symptoms may ensue.

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