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Older Adults May Be More Likely To Drink Higher Levels Of Alcohol

With all of the buzz constantly surfacing about teens and drinking, you would think that young Americans in their late teens and early twenties would be the most common drinkers, but a new study has provided information that is just the opposite. Recent research shows that it is actually older middle aged adults who tend to drink more and in larger quantities. These results came out of the University College of London, Located in the United Kingdom, and prove important in the battle against alcoholism. The lead author of the study, Dr. Annie Bretton, has said the following in regards to the research as quoted by Medical News Today: “Understanding how drinking behavior fluctuates throughout life is important to identify high-risk groups and trends over time. Research on the health consequences of alcohol needs to incorporate changes in drinking behavior over the life course.”

If this new research could help in gaining some more accurate insight on who is being effected most and how often, it could lead to a more effective approach in treating and preventing alcoholism in these age, gender, and ethnicity groups.

Focusing on The Statistics

The study, which included data collected between 1979 and 2013 had a total number of participants equaling 59,397. The highest level of alcohol consumption found in the group was in males who are over the age of sixty-five years, which was determined by the fact that more than half of the group of men in this age range consumed alcohol every day. In men, the average drinking amount per week was 20 units, while women fell around 7 in comparison. This is quite a difference, and the research collected from these studies helped the scientific community to determine which age and gender group required the most observation in terms of future care.

Unhealthy Observations

Unfortunately, these numbers do not bode well for the health and safety of the older community; with so many illnesses and deaths relating to alcohol occurring each year in the United States and across the globe, there is already enough negativity associated with alcohol consumption. With the addition of these shocking new numbers for older adults and their tendency to drink more, there could be even more negative implications to prepare for. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says: “Aging can lower the body’s tolerance for alcohol.  Older adults generally experience the effects of alcohol more quickly than when they were younger.  This puts older adults at higher risks for falls, car crashes, and other unintentional injuries that may result from drinking.”

Older adults also suffer from problems that occur due to diabetes, higher blood pressure, neurological disorders, liver and heart disease. When combined with alcohol and the medications that are required for some of these disorders and diseases there can be serious risks to be concerned about outside of alcoholism itself.

What These Additional Health Risks Mean For Physicians

Unfortunately, another negative effect of alcohol consumption in older people, particularly those who are on medication or suffer from additional medical issues, is that it can mask symptoms that doctors are looking for when checking up on patients. Alcohol can cause new symptoms or make it difficult for medical professionals to determine whether symptoms are there at all. In patients with neurological or heart disorders this can be particularly dangerous. The National Institute on Aging states: “Many medicines—prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal remedies—can be dangerous or even deadly when mixed with alcohol. Many older people take medications every day, making this a special worry. Before taking any medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can safely drink alcohol.”

The institute also insists that the average adult over the age of 65 years shouldn’t imbibe more than 7 drinks per week. As seen in the results of the study above, this is quite a bit less than many of the men in the trials who were seen consuming up to 20 alcoholic beverages per week on average. In women this seems to be fitting in reference to the above collected statistics, but all older adults drinking more than 7 alcoholic beverages per week should consider drinking less, or cutting out alcohol altogether to preserve the heart, liver, mind, and even external regions of the body such as the skin.

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