alcohol and aging

In addition to concerns regarding the misuse of alcohol alone, up to 19 percent of older Americans combine alcohol and medications in a way that can be considered misuse (NIAAA 1998a,b). Mixing alcohol and psychoactive medications such as benzodiazepines, sedatives, and opioid analgesics has the potential for very serious negative outcomes that prescribing physicians should discuss with older adult patients. Increased at-risk use and abuse of alcohol in older adults will present unique challenges in terms of recognition, interventions, and determining the most appropriate treatment options, when needed. Alcohol problems in this age group often are not recognized and, if recognized, generally are undertreated.

alcohol and aging

Impact of alcohol on aging

Combining alcohol with certain medications such as opioids can be particularly dangerous. The aging of the Baby Boom population will severely tax the current health care system (Bartels and Naslund 2013). There is a paucity of clinicians specializing in geriatric medicine and geriatric psychiatry. In fact, as the Baby Boom cohort moves into older adulthood, they are likely to use more alcohol than previous generations of older adults. Misuse and abuse of alcohol, and the combination of alcohol with the use of some medications (including benzodiazepines, sedatives, and opioid analgesics), can lead to negative health outcomes.

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  • If any of these signs sound familiar, you might feel a sense of despair.
  • As we age, our bodies undergo physiological modifications that complicate our ability to regulate alcohol consumption.
  • Alcohol problems in this age group often are not recognized and, if recognized, generally are undertreated.
  • While it may seem like it, and your parent may outright say it, it isn’t.
  • If you’ve never used video conferencing or social media before, it may seem a little uncomfortable at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.

Or perhaps a diagnosis of dementia, cancer, or a similar condition has robbed you of your sense of independence. Your diet is another factor that can affect your physical health as well as your mood and energy levels. After drinking too much, you might feel guilty about your lack of self-control. You might also regret things that you said or did while intoxicated. Retirement or a reduced ability to work can affect your income, and financial instability often increases stress.

‘Low-risk’ drinking?

  • While you’re not alone—research shows that alcohol use is rising among older adults—trying to drink away your problems only creates a dangerous spiral.
  • These rates vary widely, depending on the definitions of older adults, at-risk and problem drinking, alcohol abuse/dependence, and the methodology used in obtaining samples.
  • Everyone ages differently so your chronological age and biological age may be the same or they can be different.
  • But alcohol can be a very difficult substance to detox from.

These interactive effects could cause medications to become less or more effective. Or, they could create additive side effects such as heightened drowsiness or an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, says Moore. If you’re taking any medication, be sure to read the package label and insert carefully—and/or talk to your doctor—to see if you should abstain from drinking alcohol altogether. In the LGBTQ community, especially among teens, there are many situations that lend themselves to high amounts of stress. Discovering yourself, telling your loved ones, and fear of rejection can make alcohol seem like the easy answer.

Relaxation practices such as mindfulness meditation, visualization, and deep breathing exercises can help to combat stress without turning to alcohol. Exercises that involve rhythmic movement, such as swimming or running, and activities that involve deep does alcohol make you look older breathing, such as yoga, can also be helpful. Some alcohol support groups, such as AA, also offer online meetings as a convenient way to connect. Rather than just chat, consider hosting a digital book club or game night with friends over a video call.

alcohol and aging

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