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Alcohol Use and Older Adults

As people age, they may become more sensitive to alcohol's effects. One reason is that older people metabolize, or break down, alcohol more slowly than younger people. So, alcohol stays in their bodies longer. Also, the amount of water in the body declines with age. As a result, older adults have a higher percentage of alcohol in their blood than younger people after drinking the same amount of alcohol.

Aging lowers the body's tolerance for alcohol. This means that older adults can experience the effects of alcohol, such as slurred speech and lack of coordination, more readily than when they were younger.

Also, drinking alcohol can cause certain medicines to not work properly and other medicines to become more dangerous or even deadly. Mixing alcohol and some medicines can cause sleepiness, confusion or lack of coordination, which may lead to accidents and injuries.

An older person can develop problems with alcohol even though his or her drinking habits have not changed. If you are concerned about how alcohol use is affecting your life, talk with your doctor.

Source: National Institutes of Health


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