Alcohol and the Elderly Update


Some of you have asked to be updated on the progress with the alcohol conflict in our household. At last report, Charlie's consumption was down to one or two drinks per night of wine diluted with ginger ale. That was going along without incident until his old hunting/drinking buddies showed up for a visit.

The two old cronies had also cut back on their alcohol use, drinking only a bottle of beer each while they were here. I was relieved. However, once they left, Charlie's request for a glass of wine gradually ratcheted up to the point where he was drinking one bottle of diluted wine for a total count of five or six glasses.

Once more, I had to lay down the law. I told him that when the current household supply was gone, there would be no more alcoholic beverages in our home. His response: "Well then, I'll go too." Empty words, of course, but it set the tone for what I might expect. The wine cellar was emptied a few days ago, and surprise, Charlie hadn't noticed. You see, I can be very deceitful when it serves my purpose. Charlie still has his wine glass at his elbow every day from 3 p.m. until bedtime. He happily imbibes an amber or rosy beverage, with nary a complaint.

I poured him a glass of red beverage one day and he asked, "What kind of wine is this?" I slyly responded that it was a Merlot. "It's good. I like it," he told me. What he was really drinking was a half glass of sparkling grape juice topped off with ginger ale. Today I poured him a glass of amber elixir. When he asked what kind of wine he was drinking, I told him it was applejack wine. It was actually apple juice with ginger ale. That one, too, met with his approval.

I have to make sure I am the one doing the pouring, or he will catch on to my ruse. Or maybe he won't. With his Swiss cheese brain, he may think that pouring him self a glass of sparkling grape juice is the same as pouring a glass of red wine.

He now usually goes to bed at the same time I do. He has not suffered any withdrawal symptoms, he is sleeping soundly and his hand tremors are less noticeable. Charlie's mind is more alert. His doctor repeated some cognitive tests on him, and he scored better than he had on earlier tests.

Whoa! As I write, Charlie declares a crisis. He hobbled to the bathroom with you-know-what trailing across the room. An hour, a shower, a load of laundry, carpet cleaning and much swearing (on my part) later, I am trying to figure out what triggered this episode. He has an occasional accident, but never anything of this magnitude. I am thinking too much of a good thing—apple juice.

So now I'm back to square one. For now, he is tipping a glass of straight ginger ale. As for me, I have my fingers crossed and am kicking myself for my foul language. It is a daily struggle. One day he realizes that his drink is not what he thinks it should be; on another day he doesn't notice. How does that prayer go: "Lord, give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change…"

Marlis describes herself as a “Gramma who loves technology and has a lot to say.” She blogs about whatever catches her interest: food, books, family and more. For, she writes about the issues facing the elderly and her experiences caring for her husband, Charlie, who suffers from dementia.

View full profile

You May Also Like

Free AgingCare Guides

Get the latest care advice and articles delivered to your inbox!


Thank you so much for your input about dementia. I'm living with my husband who was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment, three years ago. The stories of lost keys, cell phones and teeth continue to happen in our household. I've learned that nothing is so important that it can not be replaced. Each day is a challenge, my God gives me. I can complain or just chuckle. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Charlie. Continue to share!
I think you should be in Al Anon meetings. Help yourself and leave Charlie's business alone.
Serenity Prayer ~ I say it daily ~ multiple times~