Senior Health

During the COVID-19 lockdown, most of us are imbibing more alcohol than usual (and perhaps even binge drinking) – whether to help handle the stress or just to offer some variety in the repetitiveness of our days (at least that’s my excuse!).

While polishing off almost a bottle of wine in one sitting is hopefully a temporary condition for the majority of folks, surprisingly one in 10 people over the age of 65 is involved in binge drinking (defined as five or more drinks at a time for men and four or more for women) on a regular basis. And although heavy drinking isn’t ever a good thing, there are far greater consequences as we age! Here’s why:

1. Quicker Buzz

The older we get, our body processes alcohol differently due to slower circulation and less muscle mass, meaning we may feel woozy with fewer drinks. This inebriated state may lead to impaired judgment, coordination, balance and reaction time, increasing our risk for falls, household accidents and car crashes.

2. Chronic Conditions

Regular heavy drinking can exacerbate chronic illnesses such as hypertension, osteoporosis, diabetes and ulcers.

3. Drug Interactions

Alcohol can make blood pressure meds less effective, sedatives more potent, and the effects of blood thinners greater, magnifying the risk of serious bleeding.

4. Memory Issues

Heavy drinking can cause a state of confusion and forgetfulness, which may be mistaken for dementia. It can also cause us to forget to take our medications.

5. Poor Sleep Quality

While a few drinks may help us fall asleep more quickly, those drinks may actually diminish the overall quality of our sleep, causing us to wake up during the night or feel less rested.

Drink responsibly isn’t just an admonition for the young. It’s good advice at any age!