Service de court séjour gériatrique, Centre hospitalier, Ancenis, France, Service de soins de suite « Le Confluent », Croix Rouge française, Nantes, France, Pôle hospitalo-universitaire de gérontologie clinique, CHU de Nantes, France, Pôle hospitalo-universitaire de psychiatrie, CHU de Nantes, France
Background: alcohol use disorders in the elderly are often underdiagnosed in spite of their effects worsened by age-related physiological changes, comorbidities and frequent polymedication. Objective: the aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of alcohol use in a geriatric acute care unit. Subjects and methods: a prospective and descriptive study was carried out in an acute care geriatric unit in France, from November 2011 to March 2012. It included inpatients aged 75 and older. We gathered medical data from medical records and conducted one-to-one interviews assessing the inpatients’ weekly alcohol intake and personal history of alcohol use. We screened alcohol abuse and dependence by using parts of the MINI (Mini international neuropsychiatric interview). We also assessed benzodiazepine and tobacco consumption. Comprehensive geriatric assessment was conducted using the CIRS-G (cumulative illness scale in geriatrics), the MMSE (Mini mental state evaluation), the MNA (Mini nutritional assessment), the mini GDS (mini Geriatric depression scale) and the 4-IADL (4-Instrumental activities of daily living). Patients were dispatched in five groups according the DSM-IV-TR classification. Results: the study included consicutively 100 inpatients (53 women and 47 men), with a mean age of 84.8±5.4 years. Forty-four percent had alcohol use disorders (29% at-risk users, 11% harmful users and 4% dependent). Very few inpatients with alcohol use disorders had been asked in the past about their alcohol consumption. They used benzodiazepine more often than the others. We did not find any differences in geriatric assessment when comparing the two sub-groups. Conclusion: alcohol use disorders are very common in elderly inpatients of acute geriatric care units, especially when considering the group of at-risk users. Alcohol use should thus be screened for every elderly inpatient.