Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Summer 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Rehabilitation and Counselor Education

First Advisor

John S. Wadsworth

Second Advisor

Noel Estrada Hernandez

Abstract

Older women constitute a growing segment of Puerto Ricans and the U.S. population. A limited number of studies have examined the activity level in response to alcohol use in late life. Generally, older women present risks and benefits from alcohol use. Alcohol misuse may decrease health and in some cases, psychiatric symptoms may develop. However, some benefits are found in moderate alcohol consumption including improved physical function compared with nondrinkers (Blow & Barry, 2002). Since activity level may depend on factors such as health, functioning, emotional well-being, and perception of alcohol effects, these factors were then assessed in response to alcohol use in order to identify the degree of greater or lesser activity among elderly Puerto Rican females.

This study examined the activity level in response to alcohol use in a sample of elderly Puerto Rican females (N = 419) and investigated factors that influence the practice of alcohol consumption. The independent variable was daily and weekly consumption of alcohol. Five dependent variables were examined, which included self-rating of physical health and emotional well-being, self-perception of activity level, function, and perception of alcohol effects. After conducting MANOVA analyses, no significant association between activity level and alcohol use was found. In addition, regarding the negative and positive effects of alcohol, the researcher found that elderly females who drank heavily reported having alcohol-related problems compared to those who drank moderately who described their drinking behavior as positive. The MANOVA and ANOVA analyses determined a significant relationship between higher self-perception of functionality and moderate alcohol use, but the relationship between moderate alcohol use and physical health and emotional well-being was not significant.

Considering the increase of alcohol use in the older adult population, principally in the baby boomer generation, these findings are important not only to rehabilitation counseling professionals, but to many individuals in the helping professions, including educators and researchers. Rehabilitation counseling professionals should focus on initiatives to decrease and prevent alcohol misuse in the older adult population. Information revealed from this study will also contribute to knowledge of the cultural characteristics and psychosocial aspects of older Puerto Rican females regarding their alcohol use to promote better outcomes, as well as support literature in the area.

Keywords

ACTIVITY, AGING, ALCOHOL USE, ELDERLY, PUERTO RICAN

Pages

vii, 129 pages

Copyright

Copyright 2014 Ruth N. Mercado-Cruz

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