Book Review: Counselling Older People with Alcohol Problems
Mike Fox, Lesley Wilson (2011). Jessica Kingsley Publishing.
Australia, like other developed countries, has a rapidly ageing population. Over the next 50 years the Australian Bureau of Statistic (2000) predicts that the number of older Australians is expected to increase to 6.5 million, representing approximately 25% of the total population. Whilst the use and abuse of alcohol amongst younger Australians is well documented through both research and the media, the incidence of alcohol use amongst older Australians is not so openly discussed. Alcohol-related deaths amongst Australian males peak in the 65 to 69 year age group, and in the 70 to 74 year age group for females (Chikritzhs, Jonas, Heale, Stockwell, Dietze, Hanlin, et al. 2000). With these considerations in mind, alcohol related issues are likely to increase in the elderly population.
Counselling older people with alcohol problems by Mike Fox and Lesley Wilson (2011) is a clear and comprehensive text giving consideration to the incidence of alcohol misuse amongst older persons (55 years and older). Both authors use their years of practice experience and case study examples to assist the reader in understanding the complex issues faced by older clients. An early chapter outlines not only the social and cultural variance but also that often times the recognition of problematic drinking is delayed by expectations of what is considered “normal” in older people. Memory loss, confusion and poor co-ordination are oft considered a consequence of old age rather than a symptom of problematic drinking.
The book is broken into three (3) parts:
- Part I: provides a broad overview of the client group including distinguishing features, reasons for drinking and the identity of the older person. Discussion concludes with an outline of the theoretical model as suggested by the authors.
- Part II: comprehensively addresses the therapeutic process. Each chapter within this section takes the reader on the therapy journey, starting with the first session/assessment phase through to identifying concerns, detox, and relapse, concluding with strategies for ending therapy. The material within this section is practical and relevant to a variety of practitioners. A special chapter devoted to therapist self-care is also offered.
- Part III: in this final section acknowledgement and exploration is given to specific issues relating to elderly persons — dementia, depression and bipolar disorder.
Working with older people with alcohol problems is based on the real life practice experiences of the authors. Their insights provide an honest reflection on the problems faced by both practitioner and client. The practical nature of the text and easy to read style is well suited to any persons with an interest in older persons and alcohol issues.
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