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What About Alcohol in Assisted Living?

Even seniors enjoy sipping on a glass of wine on occasion, but residential assisted living staff must make sure it’s the right decision for each resident.

Can I offer a glass of wine in my assisted living home to my residents? Are residents permitted to furnish their alcohol?

When opening an assisted living home, knowing the rules regarding substances like alcohol is important. This article will help assisted living homeowners navigate alcohol consumption in their homes.


Most rules that govern the operation of assisted living facilities come from the state and local level, so there is no nationwide rule applying to things like alcohol consumption. The question for assisted living operators lies more in the health and overall wellness of their residents.

Drinking alcohol is quite prevalent in assisted living, and with good reason. Many residents consume a glass of wine with their dinner, as they have for many years. Other residents enjoy a night-cap cocktail before retiring for the evening.

What’s the problem? Age comes with an increase in health issues. These health issues often require prescription medication intervention.

In most cases, it is not healthy to consume prescription medications with alcohol.

So, as an assisted living homeowner, what is your plan as it pertains to alcohol? Should residents be permitted?


Moderation is a crucial component for new assisted living homeowners – put it into practice. Dietary restrictions and necessities are for optimal health.

Physical activity in moderation will fortify ideal health. Moderation is best regardless of age, health conditions, and gender. Assisted living drinking guidelines should reflect:

  • One drink per day for a woman over 65.
  • Two drinks per day for men over 65.

Consuming alcohol according to these parameters is far less likely to cause an adverse alcohol-related event. While alcohol consumption, especially red wine, has medicinal benefits, consider the adverse effects also

Adverse effects of alcohol consumption include:

  • Heart damage resulting in irregular heartbeat
  • High risk of stroke.
  • Rise in high blood pressure.
  • Liver damage
  • Pancreatic damage
  • Immune system damage resulting in a higher risk of pneumonia

Research often overlooks how alcohol consumption affects health benefits. Here are some advantages associated with moderate alcohol consumption:

  • Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease (red wine)
  • Potential increased longevity
  • 60% reduction in contracting a cold
  • 23% decreased risk of dementia
  • A 33% reduced risk in gallstone prevalence
  • A lower risk of developing Type II Diabetes

These benefits may astound many. Who knew consuming alcohol had such significant health benefits?
However, these health benefits are contingent upon consumption.

When alcohol consumption extends beyond moderation, these benefits dissipate.


Assisted living homeowners should promote the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption. Overindulgence should be discouraged and against house policy.

Celebrating retirement and life events should not be compromised due to alcohol consumption. Therefore, alcohol should not be offered or provided for residents in whom consumption is not medically advantageous.

Independence is a central value of a residential assisted living home. Residents and care teams should make the best possible decisions for optimizing health.

If assisted living operators offer quality care for eating plans, such should be the same for alcohol consumption.


Contemporary society does not openly discuss the addiction often experienced by seniors.

In addition to society’s blind eye, assisted living homes often do not advertise their innate ability to help struggling seniors.

However, assisted living homes are smaller communities, which can be phenomenal environments for seniors struggling with addiction. A change in environment, medical and psychological treatment, coupled with structured living, is a beautiful environment for seniors battling addiction.

Assisted living homeowners should strongly consider offering addiction as a line of treatment, much like some homes specialize in dementia care.

There are other assisted living homes focused on orthopedic support. Specializations are plenty when it comes to assisted living homes.

However, as with any specialization, some things will need to be purposefully done to ensure quality care.

  • Supportive Environment: The assisted living home is a community of like-minded people who relish their independence but long for connection.
  • Medication Supervision: Medications are secured in a locked cabinet and administered by specially trained staff.
  • Specially Trained Staff: An addiction treatment home should be prepared to care for such seniors. Substance abuse problems are a serious concern, and training for staff is available. Assisted living homes should strongly consider offering the option for residents to speak with social workers or therapists regarding addiction.
  • Restricted Access to Alcohol: Seniors are dealing with addiction should have a controlled menu at mealtimes. Most assisted living homes avoid serving alcohol at mealtime.
  • Overall Wellness Program: A robust wellness program is essential in an assisted living home specializing in addiction treatment or support. A wellness program’s objective is to affect every aspect of senior living in an assisted living home. By adopting a wellness program, a resident’s entire life is positively affected.
  • Safe Transportation: In many assisted living homes, transportation is provided, either by staff or hired professional drivers.


When evaluating an assisted living home specializing in addiction treatment, potential residents and their families should gauge the environment.

Observe what life is like in the home. What activities are happening, and how are the residents engaging? Do the amenities suit your needs and desires?

No two assisted living homes are the same, so choose whichever home meets most of your needs.

Aside from feeling fit, assisted living homes specializing in addiction treatment should have viable credentials.

Look for credentials in the following areas:

  • Staff Certifications:
    Who and how many staff persons are certified to work with residents in need of addiction treatment?
  • Medication Guidelines:
    What are the policies and procedures for medication distribution and storage?
  • Counseling Services:
    Are there on-site counseling services available, or is there access to counseling services with a contracting addiction therapist?
  • Group Program:
    Group therapy is essential for seniors suffering from addiction. Is there an active therapy group within the home? During the pandemic, adaptations ensure adequate continued support.
  • Alcohol Restrictions:
    Is alcohol permissible? Is it readily consumed? Is it regulated or deregulated? Each assisted living home will vary in its rules concerning alcohol.
  • Mental Health Resources:
    Mental health services are suitable for any senior, but it is essential for one dealing with addiction.


Unfortunately, many veterans of the armed services suffer from addiction.

The Veterans Administration offers addiction therapy and treatment for veterans enrolled in the Veterans Administration Health Care System. These programs offer medical, social, vocational, and rehabilitation services for veterans suffering from addiction.

Assisted living homeowners should clearly understand the specific state regulations about alcohol consumption.

There are well-documented adverse effects of excessive consumption of alcohol. Practicing moderation helps health benefits.


To learn more about regulating alcohol in your assisted living home or establishing a niche’ home. At the Residential Assisted Living Academy, Gene Guarino and his team of experts will teach you everything you need to know about owning and operating an assisted living business.

Visit: for additional information – get registered today.

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