While few would promote getting drunk as a miracle cure for anything, alcohol has received some positive press in medical journals and popular media. Modest alcohol consumption may indeed offer certain health benefits, although whether those benefits outweigh the risks is still a controversial question. But if you’re approaching your senior years, you may need to rethink your relationship with your drink of choice. Let’s take a look at some key health and wellness points senior drinkers should consider.
Alcohol and the Aging Body: A Tricky Combination
Alcohol tends to have a stronger impact on your body and brain as you age. This is partly because the body’s ratio of muscle to fat changes — and the more fat your body stores, the more trouble it has processing the toxins in alcohol. You may get drunk more quickly than you once did, and you may drunker from the same amount of alcohol. This toxic payload can affect your heart, possibly in ways that mask the warning signs of a heart attack. It also increases the odds that you’ll experience drowsiness or other kinds of mental impairment — a recipe for accidents and injuries.
Drinking Motives: Simple Pleasure vs. Self-Medication
For many casual drinkers, drinking is nothing more than an occasional simple pleasure. But for seniors dealing with chronic pain, alcohol can become a form of self-medication. Lonely seniors often suffer from depression, another form of pain that may lead them to the bottle. Self-medication can easily turn into full-blown alcoholism before you know it. Take care of your underlying issues through safer, medically-supervised methods instead.
The Question of Drug Interactions
Does your list of daily medications seem to be getting longer and longer? Seniors typically take drugs for age-related conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, insomnia, and chronic pain conditions such as arthritis. Alcohol can interact with many of the medications prescribed for these conditions, with dangerous results. Even “safe” drugs such as NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding when combined with alcohol. (Acetaminophen plus alcohol can even equal liver failure.) Ask your doctor whether you can drink safely while taking your current medications.
Alcohol doesn’t have to be off-limits to seniors. In fact, research has indicated that small amounts of alcohol may even aid memory in the over-60 crowd. Just keep in mind that if you’re a member of this age group, it’s more important than ever to think before you drink.
Angel Companions Senior Care is an in home care agency located in Marietta that helps people stay safe and happy in their home. If you have any questions please use our contact page form or call us today at 770-579-5000!