Unexplained, alcohol-fueled depression in previously active parents.

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My parents are in their early 70s. They are former marathon runners, health food freaks, etc. They have stopped doing everything over the past 1+ year. Now they drink alcohol all day, mom started smoking, they do not eat reguarly or well, they have given up all excercise. Housework and hygiene have tanked. Everything is "overwhelming" according to my Mom. Other than alcoholism and depression, there are NO known health issues. Finances are good. Family relationships are good. I CANNOT understand why they are not out enjoying life. All they do is sit around the house and drink and stew about how awful life is. I invite them to our home, and they mostly refuse. Often they cancel at the last moment after I have bought and prepared food. This included last Christmas, and then we spent Mother's Day in the emergency room since my mother went several days with no food or water and was totally dehydrated and fell out. They do not live with me, but live four houses down the street. I am at a loss.


one word: Al-Anon. run don't walk!
So far my parents are in denial and refuse to do anything. I have been thinking of attending some AA meetings by myself to see if that will provide me with some insight or guidance. I am an only child, and it is one against two with me trying to intervene with both of them, it's very hard!
In my experience, they will go to any lengths to protect their drinking....and that usually will lead to isolation, on their part. You can go online to AA website and they have a Big Book, online. There are certain chapters, that may be helpful, to you. The ones i would reccommend are "the Dr.s Opinion", "There is a Solution" and Chpt.3 "More about Alcoholism". That will give you a rough idea. It also talks about the differences of heavy drinker and a REAL Alcoholic. Oh and def. try Alanon. Good Luck.
Chances are that your parents don't want to visit you for dinner because they won't feel comfortable drinking at all or drinking as much as they'd like. They're probably limiting themselves to short visits because that's all they can tolerate. The prospect of spending an entire Christmas day without drinking, or trying to drink in moderation, may look like a day of hell for them, regardless of how much they love you and want to be with you. They probably cancel at the last moment because they got too far into the bottle to go. That's addiction. I was a heavy smoker 20 years ago and I'm describing how I felt at the prospect of going somewhere I couldn't smoke. Addiction is a real driving force. It puts all your other desires on the back burner.
They may feel horrible about how their relationship with you has deteriorated, but they'll protect their drinking at almost all costs. You protect yourself.
I appreciate the comments and suggestions. I will check out the AA resources suggested. Any other thoughts or comments are welcome! My dad keeps insisting that he likes his life the way it is, and he sees no reason for change. I feel that it probably will just come down to me watching out for myself and not getting dragged down. I run my own business so it is sink or swim in that part of my life and my family's only income source. Thank you very much for commenting on my situation.
As a follow up, I did some research on a local facility that has a voluntary alcohol detox program under doctor's care. It is a 5-night program. I presented the pitch to my parents, and I expected them to be negative. Surprisingly, they are thrilled! I think they were hoping for help but not knowing where to start. We are meeting with a counselor early next week. Its a 5-day program where they do not leave the facility.
I am curious, were your parents drinkers before, when younger? A social drink now and again does not make a "drinker" but this sounds more serious.

I have a few family members that were really big drinkers/drugs when younger and went through several 12-step sessions and a detox or two. Just wondering if this monster may come back to haunt us as they age. Two have been completely sober for 20+ years. I know an addiction is there forever but does it rear its ugly head again when people get older and feel so vulnerable with their changing life and health? Scary thought.

Wish them much success with the 5-day program. Be proud of your parents for accepting your help with this....that is so very hard for them. God bless!
Young life - really no drinking but special occaisons or weekend get togethers. It became a daily thing in their 50s. When they retired and were home all the time, it started to creep up earlier and earlier until it's an all day thing and negatively affects every part of their lives, from health, relationships, sleep patterns, eating, hygiene, home maintenance, etc. From what I have read, this issue is grossly under reported in the elderly. Older people are able to "fly under the radar" so to speak since they don't have to show up for daily employment, take primary care of children, and they drive a lot less, so there is less chance of DUI. For a lot of people, a DUI or problems at work "out" them and can lead to change. Someone who is retired and does not go out a lot can go un-noticed when it comes to drinking. I would suggest to anyone who has older parents that drink very much, keep an eye out for falls, lack of appetite, etc. It has affected my Mom by irritating her stomach so bad it has damaged her throat and she has little appetite. It has affected my dad by damaging nerves in his feet and legs which have affected his waking. I don't even want to think about them driving, but my dad still does. He is a great driver other than the effects of alcohol, which I am sure are present daily.
at 70 + yrs old i don't think id let someone tell me what to ingest. they're days are numbered, my advice leave them alone.
Ha! I am young enough I could say the same thing about 54. LOL!

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