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PSYC5013 Psychology Q&A

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PSYC5013 Psychology Q&A

Portfolio question 2

Evaluate claim that risk of alcohol is related to harm increases with age

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Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol can harm an individual's health. Excessive alcohol usage can lead to around 95,000 deaths as well as 2.8 million YPLL (years of potential life lost) every year. Starting alcohol consumption at an early age is connected to an increase in later life alcohol complications such as alcohol-related injuries and heavy drinking (Soundararajan et al. 2017). Alcohol can act differently within the older population as compared to young people. A few older individuals feel high without taking a high amount of alcohol, and this high can make them more probable having different forms of accidents such as car crashes, fractures, and falls. Information has suggested that alcohol usage has slowly increased in population age sixty years or above in the past two decades, specifically in women (Niaaa.nih.gov, 2018). Older populations can experience more complex health issues as compared to young people, especially people who take fixed medication, have health issues, and drink heavily.

Majority of the people drink lower amount of alcohol as they grow old; however, a few people continues heavy drinking habit throughout their life, as well as some of them develop issues with alcohol regarding the first year within their late years. Evidence has suggested several challenges, which can increase at this life stage: decreased income, loneliness, losing loved ones and friends, and failing health. All these reasons can cause people to drink for escaping their feelings (Health.harvard.edu, 2018). Many risk factors combine for making drinking even at usual levels can increase risk, as people grow old. The ability for metabolizing alcohol reduces, and after taking the exact quantity of alcohol, old-aged people can have high blood-alcohol concentration as compared to young people because these changes as the lower volume of the total body-water as well as lower rates of the eliminating alcohol through the body. Besides these changes, the body can also face different age-related changes, increasing risk connected to drinking.

Kelly et al. (2018) explained that people could experience several alcohol-related harms when they get old. For example, their hearing and eyesight can deteriorate, and their reflexes can slow. These types of changes could make them feel high, dizzy, and intoxicated even if they consume a little amount of alcohol. As an outcome, older individuals are more probable having alcohol-related falls and automobile collisions as well as different types of accidents (Health.harvard.edu, 2018). According to NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), when people get older, they are more likely to have alcohol-related harms. For example, ageing lowers the body's tolerance regarding alcohol. As compared to the young population, older people experience alcohol affects more quickly, which put them at high-risk level of car crashes, falls, and different unintentional injuries. Additionally, alcohol consumption in older age can increase different health issues or worsen the health issues, who already have the following ones.

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Liver problems
  • Mood disorders
  • Memory problems
  • Osteoporosis
  • Congestive heart failure

Besides these issues, as mentioned earlier, bad interactions with medicines can be dangerous for older people when mixed with alcohol. Older people already have several health issues, they take medications for it, and when they consume alcohol, medicines interact with them and harm people’s health (Niaaa.nih.gov, 2018). Following are the medications that badly interact with the alcohol substances.

  • Acetaminophen
  • Aspirin
  • Cough syrup
  • Pain medication
  • Sleeping pills
  • Anxiety or depression medicine

Additionally, NIA (National Institute on Aging) has explained that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol more than a significant time can lead to several types of cancer, brain damage, liver damage, and immune system disorders, (Nia.nih.gov, 2017). Additionally, it can worsen a few health conditions, for example, diabetes, high BP, osteoporosis, memory loss, mood disorders, stroke, and ulcers. Moreover, when people continue drinking with age, it makes medical problems that are hard for healthcare professionals for identifying and treat, for example, changes in blood vessels and heart. It can cause people to be confused and forgetful, and all these symptoms and signs can be mistaken regarding the signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Rossow & Træen (2020) highlighted that in comparison with the younger population, the older population is more susceptible to adverse effects of alcohol. The age differential within susceptibility is due to biological changes, widespread use of psychotropic drugs, which are typically, connected to ageing and different health challenges. That is why alcohol-related risks increase with age.

Portfolio question 3

Health psychology

  1. Health psychology is about studying behavioural and psychological processes within health, healthcare, and illness. I think this is an interesting job area because it mainly pays attention to how psychological, biological, and social factors influence human health. It examines the illness's psychological underpinnings to understand how body and mind are connected regarding any illness or healing process.
  2. If I am a health psychologist, I will use psychology science to promote health, improve healthcare systems, and prevent illness. As a health psychologist, I will try to understand the psychological factors that influence health and then apply my knowledge to improve patients' health. Since a health psychologist understands behavioural factors of patients, I will try to identify different behaviours of patients, for example, their alcohol consumption behaviour and smoking behaviour and based on that, and I can recommend some intervention that helps them to cope with those habits.

Additionally, I feel this is an interesting job area because I can help people to promote a healthier lifestyle as well as try to find out different ways for encouraging people for improving their health. For instance, I can help people to quit smoking and lose weight. Additionally, I can use my skills to improve the healthcare system. For instance, I can advise doctors regarding better ways of communicating with patients. Additionally, because of this specific job area, I feel that I can adapt and test the efficacy of biological and psychological interventions for promoting health and overcoming disorders.

Reference list

Health.harvard.edu, (2018). Alcohol and age: A risky combination. Retrieved on 8th November 2021 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/alcohol-and-age-a-risky-combination

Kelly, S., Olanrewaju, O., Cowan, A., Brayne, C., & Lafortune, L. (2018). Alcohol and older people: A systematic review of barriers, facilitators and context of drinking in older people and implications for intervention design. PloS one13(1), e0191189. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0191189

Nia.nih.gov, (2017). Facts About Aging and Alcohol. Retrieved on 8th November 2021 from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/facts-about-aging-and-alcohol

Niaaa.nih.gov, (2018). Older Adults. Retrieved on 8th November 2021 from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/special-populations-co-occurring-disorders/older-adults>

Rossow, I., & Træen, B. (2020). Alcohol use among older adults: A comparative study across four European countries. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs37(6), 526-543. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1455072520954335

Soundararajan, S., Narayanan, G., Agrawal, A., Prabhakaran, D. & Murthy, P., (2017). Relation between age at first alcohol drink & adult life drinking patterns in alcohol-dependent patients. The Indian journal of medical research146(5), p.606. doi: 10.4103/ijmr.IJMR_1363_15

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