Drinking As You Get Older


HealthLine – There’s no doubt inappropriate behavior
while drinking can be embarrassing.

But drinkers might want to pay more attention to the long-term health risks.

“As we age, alcohol takes longer for the body to break down alcohol,” Dr. Brad Lander, a psychologist and addiction medicine specialist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Healthline.

Lander detailed a host of drinking-related health risks that come with age, including decreased tolerance, problems with balance and reaction time that can lead to accidents, intensifying existing health conditions, early onset dementia, certain cancers, depression, and decreased sexual functioning.

The study notes various reasons why this demographic chooses to drink. Chief among them is relaxation, but other reasons come down to social roles, including reinforcing gender norms.

While it might seem with the stress of everyday life that this group might be the most likely to develop problematic drinking habits, that isn’t necessarily the case.

Lander points out that he and his colleagues have treated adolescents as well as people in their 80s for alcoholism, along with all ages in between.

“As a person ages, they become more vulnerable to developing alcoholism,” he noted.

“Seniors may drink more to seek relief from boredom, loneliness, and grief that are common with aging. Interestingly, among seniors, women are more likely than men to develop alcoholism.”

Drawing the line between moderate, safe consumption and the kind of drinking that can lead to alcoholism can be tricky.

Lander says it’s a personal matter that can vary from person to person.

“The rule of thumb is, if drinking is causing any health problems — health, relationship, functioning, emotional — then it is too much,” he advises.

“According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the recommended limits for the average senior are no more than seven drinks in a week and no more than three drinks in one day.” Read more. 

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