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Why Seniors Should Go Easy on the Holiday Booze

Should old acquaintance be forgot …

Perhaps a better question for you and your “old” acquaintances this holiday season: Should you be drinking as much alcohol as you did in your younger days?

The answer is no, according to the National Institutes of Health, which notes on its SeniorHealth website that alcohol may hit older adults harder.

As people age, there is a decrease in the amount of water in the body. Therefore, when seniors drink, there is less water in their bodies to dilute the alcohol that is consumed. This causes older adults to have a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) than younger people after consuming an equal amount of alcohol.

champagne glasses, to illustrate article on seniors and alcohol at the holidays

Seniors and Alcohol: The Health Risks

Other factors specific to seniors may make too much alcohol dangerous. Over-imbibing, for instance, may worsen health conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, liver problems and memory issues. And let’s not forget the increased risk of falls for seniors that comes with impaired coordination and reaction time.

Mixing alcohol and prescription and/or over-the-counter drugs also carries risks. Just two examples, according to the NIH:

  • Mixing alcohol and aspirin or arthritis medications can increase the risk of bleeding in the stomach.
  • Mixing acetaminophen (Tylenol and similar painkillers) and alcohol can increase the chances of liver damage.

How Much Alcohol is Too Much for Seniors?

In general, to be at low risk for alcohol use disorder (AUD), healthy men and women over age 65 should not drink more than three drinks a day or a total of seven drinks a week.

The NIH defines a “drink” as a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine and a 1.5-ounce shot glass of whisky, vodka, gin or rum.

So enjoy the New Year’s party. But maybe don’t party quite as hard.

Read the full NIH report on alcohol and aging here.

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  • Mark Edelen

    About Mark Edelen:

    Welcome to the After55.com Senior Living Blog. I direct and edit the blog for the best senior-housing and senior-living insight and advice, while also conducting search-engine optimization for the site as a whole. Follow me on Twitter @MarkEdelen.

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    1. how about pot?

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