Alcohol abuse is a severe problem not only among teens, but also among older adults. With many health problems arising at this age, the effects of alcohol abuse further add up to the problems in the older adults. Alcohol abuse at this age can develop health problems and chronic diseases. Older adults’ body cannot withstand the severe effects of alcohol abuse. Hence older adults should limit their drinking habits.
Older adults should limit their drinking
Many studies today suggest that older adults should limit their drinking habits. The Royal College of Psychiatrists recently recommended that limits of drinking alcohol for older people should be drastically cut down. They suggested that the upper 'safe drinking limits' for the people aged 65 and above should be reduced from 3 units to 1.5 units of alcohol per day.
According to American Medical Association (AMA), 3 million Americans aged above 60 years are alcoholics and the alcohol related hospitalizations among the elderly are as common as heart attacks.
Alcohol has many harmful effects on the physiology of the body. The major physical effects of alcohol abuse are:
• Increases the risk of various types of cancers like liver, pancreas, breast and mouth
• Raises the risk of heart strokes by increasing the blood pressure and blood lipids
• Causes fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis
• Increases the risk of kidney failure by enlarging the kidneys and altering the hormone functions
• Heavy drinking can result in weak bones (osteoporosis), diabetes, high blood pressure and ulcers
• It may also lead to immune system disorders and brain damage
Psychiatric disorders of alcohol abuse are common in older people. Older people are at increased risk for cognitive and functional impairment due to alcohol abuse compared to younger adults.
In many of the cases, older people do not know that they are facing a mental disorder due to alcohol consumption. Let us have a look on how alcohol affects the mental state of an adult.
• The responsiveness of the brain in alcoholics differs from the normal people and hence excessive intake produces a rapid depressant effect, resulting in impaired body-mind co-ordination and memory loss
• Alcohol taken in conjunction with the prescribed medication can cause adverse side effects and worsens the depression
• Causes anxiety and insomnia
• Alcohol also heightens emotions leading to moodiness, irritability or even violence
All the above facts clearly indicate that older adults should limit their drinking habits. They may find it difficult to get rid of their drinking habits in this stage of life, but keeping in view the severity of ill effects, these habits should be withdrawn. Fortunately, alcoholism is treatable and the elderly have the highest rates of success in treatment.
By Nate Rodney
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