A Growing Senior Population Will Require More Vigilance Against Alcohol Misuse

The giant baby boom generation is entering their golden years. As the over 65 demographic grows, health experts predict that alcohol abuse among seniors could prove to be a serious problem in the near future. National health agencies report that while seniors are not the most likely to binge drink, seniors who do over indulge may do so more than once a week. That kind of behavior is dangerous for seniors for a number of reasons.

Recently, a newspaper article outlined several reasons why alcohol misuse is particularly dangerous for seniors.

To begin with, a person’s ability to metabolize alcohol slows down with age. This means that seniors have a lower tolerance for alcohol than they once did. If they continue to drink and over-drink they will experience more of alcohol’s ill effects than they once did. This means that the risk for accidents and injuries is greater for older drinkers.

Older adults are often dealing with at least one major health challenge. Heavy alcohol consumption can complicate all kinds of health conditions faced by seniors. Things like high blood pressure, diabetes and congestive heart failure are just a few of the health issues which are made worse with heavy drinking.

Seniors with health challenges are often taking medications to manage those conditions. Mixing alcohol with medication is always a bad idea. But alcohol is not only dangerous when mixed with prescription medications, it can also cause problems when it is mixed with over-the-counter drugs and even supplements. In some cases, the combination can be fatal.

The American Medical Association warns doctors and the public alike against ignoring the problem of alcohol abuse in seniors just because we may think that the person is too old to amend their behavior. Older citizens deserve our vigilance and concern when it comes to health and safety as much as any other segment of the population. And no one is incapable of change for the better.