Understanding the Effects of Alcohol in the Elderly Body
Alcohol can perform different side effects on the aging body. The older you get, the weaker your body can become. This is similar to how a car depreciates over time, our bodies do the same. But with proper maintenance and regulation, you can live longer.
Older adults’ sensitivity towards alcohol’s effects is already different than those of younger alcoholic drinkers yet they might acquire the same level of alcohol level and might increase more than that of a young drinker. Aging bodies already have a lower fluid level and can only take a certain amount of liquid at a time. If you or your elderly loved one is drinking alcohol regularly, there is a huge chance that the alcohol can replace the healthy fluids in the system and could cause long-term negative repercussions in the body.
Housecalls Plus, Inc., a steadfast provider of visiting physicians in Mesquite, Texas, sees that excessive drinking, or even for some, a limited amount of alcohol can already harm their health. Drinking too much alcohol can also worsen a person’s health problem.
If your elderly problems already have a compromised immune system and still deals with alcohol from time to time, there is a huge chance that his/her body could give up early due to the debilitating effects of alcohol into your system. Your body needs water. Yes, alcohol can hydrate but as it goes through your veins and organs, it harms them in several ways. It can impair one’s memory, language capability, and motor skills like that of a regular drunkard but twice or thrice more for older people.
In addition, most elders have multiple medications in order to keep up with their nutritional requirements. It is necessary for your elders to consult your doctor if their prescriptions, OTC drugs, and supplements would have negative effects or interactions with alcohol. It is often discouraged for elders to drink alcohol when taking medications for it can actually intensify or reduce the medicines’ efficacy. It would be best to stop drinking also to avoid accidental overdose.
According to NIH Senior Health, drinking alcohol with medicines such as:
- Aspirin or arthritis medications increase the risk of stomach bleeding
- Cold and allergy medicines cause drowsiness and impair motor skill coordination
- Acetaminophen increases the risks of liver damage
- Sleeping, pain-relieving, anxiety, and depression medicines can lead to memory problems, abnormal heart rhythms, and breathing problems
- Medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, gout, ulcers, and heart disease can actually make conditions worse
BJPsych Advances have found several patterns among the elderly in terms of alcohol use. Their report on Alcohol use disorders in elderly people – fact or fiction stated that such alcohol use disorders can be categorized under the early or late onset. The early-onset category had probably been alcoholics for most of their lives while the late-onset category had developed drinking problems around 40-50 years old.
It adds that alcohol abuse in the elderly has been found to root from emotional, social, medical, and practical problems. Emotional problems such as loss of occupation, family conflicts, loss of friends and social status, impaired ability to function, reduced self-esteem often take a toll on a senior’s life. The involved social aspects are often very important for your elderly loved ones but since due to turning points in their life, they might drown these problems instead.
It is highly important that they can find better ways to make things better for them. Family conflicts are dismissible as long as each family member would think about their loved ones’ health and simply get along with each other. In terms of self-esteem, they should be encouraged to find sources of activities such as community events so that they can still feel that they belong in a community.
Medical problems should be monitored properly and be maintained with proper medications to avoid alcohol misuse. Since they have problems in terms of mobility, pain management, functional abilities, sleeping problems, and others, they should get enough treatment and medication for it. Provide assistance to compensate their impaired self-care capabilities.