Alcohol and aging don’t mix well. Regular drinking can bring significant health concerns, which can only add to the health problems that the elderly might already have. Yet, despite the risks, research indicates that 40% of adults over the age of 65 drink alcohol on a regular basis. And for those older adults who take medication, have current health problems, and who drink heavily, alcohol might only exacerbate their mental and physical illnesses.
Even if a person is not in their 50’s or 60’s, regular heavy drinking can have significant effects on one’s health. For instance, drinking alcohol across the long term can affect coordination, thiamine deficiency, and other forms of poor nutrition. Alcoholism can lead to illnesses having to do with the heart, such as hypertension and an irregular heartbeat. It can also cause impotence, irregular menstrual cycles, pancreatitis, stroke, confusion, and amnesia. Other illness associated with chronic heavy drinking include
- High blood Pressure
- Nerve Damage
However, these risks are magnified when someone is older. For instance, aging can lower a person’s body tolerance to alcohol. This can mean that older adults feel the effects of alcohol more quickly than when they were younger. This can create incredible risks for an elderly person to experience falls, car accidents, and other forms of accidental harm.
Furthermore, there are specific health concerns that a person can become more vulnerable to with aging. For instance, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, liver problems, mood disorders, memory problems, and osteoporosis are illnesses frequently experienced by the elderly. Regular alcohol consumption can make these health concerns worse.
Furthermore, there are certain medications that are frequently taken by older adults, with which alcohol does not mix well. In fact, some medications can even cause death when mixed with alcohol. For instance, types of medication that don’t interact well with alcohol include:
- cold and allergy medication
- cough syrup
- sleeping pills
- pain medication
- psychotropic medication, such as antidepressant
The long-term effects of alcoholism can be devastating and life threatening. This includes the psychological effects of an addiction as well. In order for older adults to stay safe with their drinking, it is best to follow guidelines provided by one’s doctor and/or prescription drug information. However, for those healthy adults over the age of 65 and who are not taking medication, it is best that they limit their alcohol consumption to:
- no more than 3 drinks per day
- no more than 7 drinks per week
In fact, it’s common to continue to drink despite knowing the many ill effects alcohol can have on someone. This is particularly true for the elderly who might be used to drinking a certain amount without trouble. However, over time, alcohol can have dire health effects as well as impair one’s functioning and slowly contribute to the development of an addiction.
If you are over the age of 65 year old, follow the drinking guidelines provided above.
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