By Kent Elliot
If you suspect a senior loved one having an addiction, it can be hard to know what to do. Addressing the problem can be an intimidating process. However, remember that people turn to alcohol and substance abuse for different reasons, so it’s vital that you handle the situation carefully and with an open mind. Here are the key steps:

First, confirm there is a problem

Before you confront someone about their addiction habits, you need to make sure there is actually a problem. It is not uncommon for abusers to be unaware of their addiction and therefore react with denial. Help them confront their problem with hard evidence.

Learn the signs of abuse and track them over the course of a few days or weeks. Have they gone through any abrupt weight changes? Do their eyes look normal? Are they experiencing frequent mood swings? Have their habits and/or priorities dramatically changed?

If you are still uncertain, do not be afraid to consult with mutual friends and family.


Next, have a one-on-one conversation

As scary as it may sound, it should be you who approaches your senior loved one about their problem. Avoid starting off with a ceremonial meeting which can be intimidating and put them on the defensive immediately.

Set time aside where you can talk by yourselves uninterrupted. The goal of this conversation is not to convince them that they have a problem, but rather that ‘you’ believe there to be one and you are concerned. Approach the situation cautiously and avoid projecting and speculating about their emotions and actions. Instead, emphasize that this comes from a place of caring and present them with the evidence. Do not bombard them; ensure this is a dialogue.

Give them a chance to think and respond, and do not be surprised if they are still unconvinced there is a problem. Often this is the first time they are being confronted with the idea that they may have a substance abuse issue and need time to think it through. Ask to follow up with the conversation in a few weeks.


Finally, consider and initiate professional care

When your senior loved one is ready to accept help, it is important to keep in mind that treatment is not a one-size-fits-all process. Some addicts do better at inpatient facilities where they have 24/7 support available. Others prefer outpatient centers that allow them to incorporate treatment into their daily lives. Assess their needs and figure out which type of treatment will be best for them.

Rehab facilities function under a variety of different philosophies. While many do use the traditional 12-Step Method, this is not the only option. Holistic treatment, which may include mindfulness practices, such as mindful framing, aiming to treat the entire mind, body, and soul, not just the symptoms. Spiritual and religious-based treatments aim to fill the void of abuse with god or a higher power. Consider all these options.

Many treatments work best when they use a combination of supplements, such as art and music therapy, exercise, and meditation in addition to their core program. Do your research and find a place that best fits their needs. Even the state of your home can help you heal, as a clutter- and mess-free home will bring positive energy and reduce stress.

The road to recovery is long and difficult. More than anything, your senior loved one will need your support every step of the way. Your support can make a big difference during the recovery process, but also keep in mind their success or failure is not your responsibility. Research nearby treatment centers and help your loved one decide. You can also have your loved one join a support group specifically designed to help seniors. Sharing and listening to other people’s experiences and challenges can be incredibly therapeutic.

Addiction is hard for everyone, but recovery is possible. Taking the steps toward recovery can be difficult, and the hardest step is often accepting help. This is where you come in. Family and friends are the biggest catalysts in encouraging abusers to take that important first step. Don’t be afraid to speak up.


This article is brought to you by The NEO Chi Institute, where our goal is to teach mindful framing for a healthier lifestyle. The NEO Chi Institute gives you a free-forever guide for mindful framing with illustrations, audios and videos that plant the seeds for a healthier NEO Chi lifestyle. For more information, please contact us today!

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