Does Your “Moderate Drinking” Need Moderation? It’s Smart to Take a Look if You’re Over 65.
Drinking alcohol can be a way to celebrate, to relax, or simply to complement a fine meal. And, moderation is a consideration for people of all age, even older Americans. In fact, more than 10 percent of those age 50 and older report binge drinking (the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binging as consuming more than five drinks if you are a man or four if you are a woman in under two hours). An additional three percent report heavy drinking.
But even if you have been a responsible social drinker for all of your adult life, if you continue to drink the same amount as you did when you were younger, you can still develop a drinking problem. Here’s why…
Alcohol sensitivity increases with age. One of the main reasons for this is, as we age, our ability to process alcohol decreases. Our bodies contain less water than they did when we were younger, so each drink has a greater influence on blood alcohol concentration. What’s more, our ability to adjust to the presence of alcohol diminishes with age.
Another factor is the overall health of those over 65. Alcohol can worsen medical conditions that older citizens are already at risk for. Stroke, high blood pressure, memory loss, osteoporosis, and mood disorders can all be exacerbated by drinking, and falls can become an all-too-common (and tragic) occurrence.
While having the occasional beer or glass of wine is fine, it’s important to remember to not overdo it. This can be difficult especially if you’ve been a responsible drinker your whole life. Here are a few tips to keep your alcohol use in check:
- Drink moderately. Do not consume more than three drinks a day or seven in a week.
- Talk with your doctor about your alcohol use—especially if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure or diabetes—even if you do not take medications to treat these illnesses.
- Check the labels on all of your medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, for their alcohol interactions.
- If you think that you or someone you care about has a drinking problem, seek help. There are support groups specially designed for older drinkers.
For more information on the many resources available to help you, please visit:
The National Institute on Aging: Older Adults and Alcohol
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|Last Modified: 11/30/2010 9:35:10 AM