Its has been shown that alcohol can have a much stronger effect on older people as when people age their bodies absorb alcohol more freely. There are many reasons for this as a body’s water ratio decreases when it ages so there is less water to dilute the alcohol and your body does not metabolize the alcohol as easy as it did when you where younger so your liver ends up producing less enzymes which are very helpful in breaking down the alcohol.
If you are on prescription or over-the-counter medication, alcohol can compound the risk of collapse and falls and in fact, alcohol can produce an impaired effect with about half of the 100 drugs used frequently by seniors these days. Also the aging body has more body fat which does not absorb alcohol and changes in body chemistry that accompany the aging process can certainly be seen as one factor to explain the prevalence of alcoholism in seniors. There is an estimate that about 3 million Americans over the age of 60 have a drinking problem and at least 10 percent of patients who go to an emergency room with alcohol related problems are over 60 years of age also as much as 20 percent of elderly patients over the age of 60 are in emergency rooms exhibit symptoms of alcoholism.
Actually researchers feel that these statistics are much lower than what they are in reality because alcohol problems in the senior population are usually mistaken for other conditions associated with the aging process, very often, alcohol abuse and alcoholism in the senior population may go undiagnosed and untreated. Yet studies have also shown that moderate drinking confers benefits to the aging population. Alcohol consumed in moderate amounts can raise HDL levels of the so –called “good” cholesterol; it can also prevent blood clots, heart attacks and ischemic strokes. Studies have demonstrated that men who drink one alcoholic beverage a day have a significantly lower risk of death compared with those who rarely or never drink. A French study completed in 2002 also shows that moderate drinking can lower the incidence of dementia in the aging population.
Despite these benefits, the dangers of alcohol are considerable. The incidents of driving problems are high in the elderly population. Any potential benefit of alcohol is more than cancelled by the dangers in alcohol –related diseases such as addictive alcoholism, cirrhosis of the liver, high blood pressure and depression. Alcohol has also been shown to produce deficits in intellectual and behavior functioning. It may accelerate normal aging or cause premature aging of the brain. Magnetic Resonance Imaging techniques have shown more extensive brain tissue loss in subjects with alcoholism than in those without alcoholism. And research also shows that shrinkage of the frontal lobe increases with the consumption of alcohol.
Here are a few suggestions on how a senior can go about making their lives a whole lot better.
- Alcohol, taken with antihistamines, is known to increase drowsiness and can lead to impaired driving or accidents.
- If you are on medication, do not drink at all. Even over the counter drugs such as Tylenol ibuprofen or aspirin, when taken with alcohol, can damage stomach lining and cause liver problems.
- If you don’t drink, don’t start. The risks far outweigh the benefits.
- If you do drink, limit yourself to one drink a day (4-5 drinks over the course of a week). Do not engage in binge drinking which can bring about irregular heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, increased risk for heart disease and strokes.
By keeping tabs on these suggestion you will be all the better for it and be able to enjoy your golden years even more.