The effects of alcohol increase with age
If you want to take care of your health as you age, you should consider your alcohol consumption, as the effects of alcohol increase with age. For example, the amount of water in the body decreases, while the amount of fat increases. The less water there is in your body, the more alcohol will affect you.
Our liver and kidneys also work less well as we age, and it will take longer for medicine to be removed from the body. When combined with medication, even a small quantity of alcohol can have unfortunate consequences. Your body mainly burns alcohol in the liver. If your liver is not functioning as well as it once did, it will be less able to burn and process alcohol. Read more about burning alcohol and the removal of alcohol from the body.
As we age, our balance, coordination and motor skills also slow down and weaken. This increases the risk of accidents such as falls – and particularly under the influence of alcohol. Our memory and senses also weaken as we age, but heavy alcohol use will make this worse.
Dementia may begin with depression. Intoxicant use can increase an elderly person’s feelings of anxiety, meaninglessness, loneliness and depression. As dementia develops, it is worth paying attention to an elderly person’s combined use of alcohol and medication, as people with dementia may forget the joint effects of drugs and alcohol.
Check your medication’s compatibility with alcohol
As we age, we often find ourselves with more illnesses and more prescription medication. When combined, alcohol and medication can cause unfortunate and even serious joint effects. These may include insomnia, dizziness, memory disorders, and even liver damage.
If you are in any doubt about drinking alcohol with your medication, always check with your doctor or pharmacy to ensure that it is safe to drink alcohol with your medication. Read more about alcohol and medication.
Alcohol risk limits are lower for the elderly
The risk limits for alcohol use are significantly lower for the elderly than they are for healthy adults of working age. For over-65s, the risk limit for alcohol consumption is 2 servings in one sitting or 7 servings per week. However, these are recommendations for healthy elderly people who are not on long-term medication. Read more about alcohol risk limits.