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2009年1月 6日 (火)

お酒と高齢者―静かに広がる依存症

2009/1/6

--The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 5(IHT/Asahi: January 6,2009)

EDITORIAL: Elderly alcoholics

お酒と高齢者―静かに広がる依存症

The number of elderly alcoholics is on the rise. Here is one example: a man, 68 years old, who lives with his wife in Osaka Prefecture. Within five years of his elderly parents passing away, he found himself in hospital being treated for alcohol addiction.

 大阪府に住むAさん(68)が両親を亡くしたあと、アルコール依存症で入院するまで5年もかからなかった。 

He had worked for a company for many years and retired at the usual age. His parents had lived with his family, and he had seen them through their final days. His two children were grown. He was left with not much to do. Out of boredom, he started to drink, even during the daytime.

 長年勤めた会社を定年退職し、同居の両親を相次いで見送った。2人の子どもは成人している。退屈しのぎに昼間もつい酒に手が伸びた。 

In no time at all, he was drinking more and more. Soon he was passing out in front of railway stations or in shopping streets. His wife consulted their family doctor, and the diagnosis was alcoholism.

 みるみる酒量が増えた。気がつくと駅前で寝ていたり、商店街で倒れていたり。妻がかかりつけ医に相談し、アルコール依存症と診断された。 

He entered a rehab program in hospital, and thought he had beaten his addiction. But after leaving the hospital, he thought, "Just a little can't hurt," and reached for the bottle again. Within a month, he was back to square one. He returned again to rehab and now attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings regularly.

 入院治療で酒は断ったはずなのに、退院後に「少しくらいなら」と、また酒を口にし、1カ月ほどで元の状態に戻ってしまった。再び入院して治療し、現在は断酒会に参加している。 

According to a survey by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, around 800,000 people are being treated for alcohol addiction nationwide. The situation is especially serious among people in their 70s.

 アルコール依存症になる高齢者が増えている。厚生労働省の調査によると、アルコール依存症の患者は推計で約80万人いる。

An estimated 3 percent of the population in their 70s are alcoholic, the highest rate among all the age groups. More elderly people are joining the All Nippon Abstinence Association for alcoholics. In fiscal 2001, only 41 percent of its members were 60 or older, but by fiscal 2007, that rate had risen to 51 percent.

なかでも70歳代は同世代人口の3%を占めると見られ、割合では世代別のトップだ。全日本断酒連盟に入会する人も年々、高齢化している。01年度に41%だった60歳以上の会員が、07年度には51%に達している。 

Recently, addictions have worsened rapidly in the immediate years after retirement.

 ここ数年で目立つのは、定年後の数年で急速に依存症が進行する例だ。 

"People who worked hard all their lives find it difficult to rebuild their lives after retirement and unconsciously turn to drink," says Ryuzo Wake, honorary director of Shinseikai Hospital in Izumi, Osaka Prefecture. Wake has spent many years treating alcoholic patients.

 「まじめに働いて定年を迎えた人が、定年後の生活設計を描けず、知らず知らずお酒にすがっている」。長年にわたってアルコール依存症の治療にあたってきた大阪府和泉市の新生会病院名誉院長、和気隆三さんは話す。 

The rise in number of rehab patients is overtaxing alcoholism treatment facilities and home nursing care services.

 依存症患者の増加は施設や在宅介護の現場にも深刻な影を落としている。 

Drinking curbs a patient's appetite, and so they refuse to eat meals prepared by their care workers. Alcoholism thus leads to secondary health problems such as malnutrition, memory loss and depression. There is also a higher risk of falling and breaking bones.

 飲酒のせいで食欲がわかず、ホームヘルパーの作った食事を食べようとしない。アルコール依存症が栄養失調や記憶障害、うつ病など、二次的な健康被害を引き起こしている。転倒して骨折する危険性も高い。 

Some alcoholic patients try to force their home care workers to buy alcohol for them. According to a survey on alcohol-related problems conducted by a Kansai academic society on about 500 care managers and home-care workers, 80 percent of respondents had clients with drinking problems and 30 percent said that they found it difficult to provide care.

 ヘルパーにお酒を買ってくるよう強要してトラブルになるケースも発生している。関西アルコール関連問題学会がケアマネジャーとホームヘルパーら500人あまりを対象に調査したところ、8割がサービス利用者の飲酒問題にぶつかり、3割がサービスの提供が困難になったと答えている。 

Alcoholism is a disease in which a person cannot control their alcohol intake. It should not be dismissed as merely someone "enjoying a drink" or being a "big boozer." If the patient receives proper treatment and quits drinking, recovery is certainly possible. The elderly, especially, are easier to treat than other age groups.

 アルコール依存症は、お酒の量を自分ではコントロールできない病気である。「酒好き」や「大酒飲み」と放っておいてはいけない。きちんと治療を受けてお酒を断てば、十分に回復できる。なかでも高齢者は回復率が高い。 

Home caregivers who have daily contact with their patients need to be trained to better understand alcohol addiction.

 ふだん高齢者と接しているヘルパーたちには、アルコール依存症について認識を深める研修が必要だ。 

What is needed is local networks that can enhance cooperation among care workers, town doctors, public health centers, hospitals specializing in the treatment of alcoholism and others.

 また、介護を担う職員と地域の開業医、保健所、依存症専門病院などが連携して高齢者を支えるネットワークを日頃から築いておくと心強い。 

The remaining days of elderly citizens are precious ones. We hope that as many elderly patients as possible can be helped and supported so they can overcome their addiction and live out their last days in fulfillment.

 残された、かけがえのない日々。依存症を克服し、ひとりでも多くの高齢者が、ほんとうの自分を生きられるよう応援したい。

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