After all, many of them no longer drive or have to worry about the possibility of getting caught for being intoxicated behind the wheel. It’s a fair point for someone trying to come up with reasons to drink more or feel like there’s nothing else to do.
But the staff at Accredited Home Care says that drinking on a regular basis isn’t the wisest idea, no matter one’s age.
They do acknowledge that alcohol is known to help people relax and enjoy themselves, especially when things around them feel crazy and out of control. Plus, some dietary experts suggest that a little wine now and then can help digestion and provide antioxidants.
But from a pure wellness perspective, many experts suggest cutting out or at least reducing the amount of alcohol consumed.
A general number has even been suggested, according to Kaiser Permanente. This health care provider recommends that healthy adults over age 65 should have no more than three drinks per day and no more than seven drinks a week.
Variables of this can include larger or smaller drink sizes; type of drink; the history of alcohol use and abuse; and time – are they downing their drinks as fast as they can or are taking their time and drinking it slowly?
There are also some reasons why medical experts, including the National Institute on Aging, suggest seniors take their drinking slowly, or even better, not at all.
- The effects may feel different and stronger. Some seniors with decreased metabolism due to aging may have less fat in their bodies. This means any alcohol they do consume, even smaller amounts than earlier in life, could hit them harder. This also can create what feels like more of an enjoyable experience.
- Increased risk for severe medical conditions. This can include immune system problems, cancers and more. These risk factors could already be high for people who have been drinking longer through life rather than someone who drank occasionally earlier in life but began drinking regularly after retirement. Poor lifestyles could be further impacted by alcohol use.
- Reduced ability to notice other physical changes. Someone who drinks regularly may not notice new and different pains that could indicate larger or different problems taking place like high blood pressure.
- Balance problems. Although they are not going to drive anywhere, they still could face risks of injury walking around their home or apartment. Their overall coordination may decrease which could lead to falls causing broken bones and other damage.
- Memory problems. Some symptoms of drinking regularly are also similar to the signs shown by people facing severe dementia, including forgetting details and information.
- Sleep problems. Alcohol disrupts the traditional sleep cycle which is crucial for healing and resisting other diseases. If someone isn’t getting frequent or “correct” sleep on a regular basis (including REM), their immune system will be reduced and other diseases could advance.
- Medication mix-ups. Besides possibly taking the wrong medicine or forgetting to take an assigned dosage at a certain time due to drinking, people could also become confused and take incorrect amounts. Alcohol in someone’s system could also change the effect of certain medications such as increasing or decreasing potency.
- Mental health problems. Chronic alcoholism can lead to everything from depression to thoughts of suicide.
Some seniors are taking advantage of the freedom to drink what they want, when they want. Some may have had a regimented schedule at work or home.
But as they moved away from corporate life and into their own scheduling they discover that there are more opportunities to partake throughout the day either with friends and family or solo.
Some may use the opportunity to drink more simply because there’s not much else to do when things are slow. Before long they are drinking regularly at even dangerous levels.
WebMD has issued warnings/advisories about reports of more seniors who are binge drinking. This means they are drinking more alcohol than the recommended rate of consumption, so beyond three drinks a day.
Binge drinking is often seen in younger people especially those in the last two years of high school and the early years of college. But there is a growing national trend that says the 60-plus age group who binge drink is on the rise.
If you’d like to learn more about the health and social risks of drinking, visit alcohol.org. This organization also encourages people to celebrate Alcohol Awareness Month each April. Since 1987, people have been encouraged to learn about how addictive alcohol can be and also learn about resources to help families and communities deal with drinking problems.
Part of the month’s focus is to point out some of the stigmas that still exist and encourage people who have become regular drinkers to acknowledge they have problems and seek help.