Many people enjoy having a cocktail with friends or drinking a glass of wine with dinner. For seniors, with a doctor’s approval, this doesn’t have to change. However, it’s important to be aware of the ways that alcohol can physically affect older adults, and how the signs of alcohol abuse look different for seniors that suffer from the negative effects.

As people age:

  • How they process alcohol changes - Slower metabolism can cause alcohol to stay in the body for longer periods of time. Also, having less muscle mass means alcohol stays in the blood for a longer period, prolonging the effects.
  • Being intoxicated feels different – Seniors have a lower tolerance to the effects of alcohol. Intoxication typically happens more swiftly and lasts longer than in someone younger.
  • Older adults are more likely to have other conditions made worse with alcohol consumption – Health conditions more common in seniors can be made worse with alcohol use. Seniors are also more likely to be using medications that should not be mixed with alcohol.

Some seniors may discuss their personal situation with their physician, and find they are able to consume alcohol without any health issues. However, those that may have a problem with alcohol can exhibit the following signs and symptoms:

  • Feeling ill-tempered when not drinking
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Sustaining injuries while intoxicated
  • Drinking to fight depression or anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Developing social or financial problems related to drinking
  • Lying about drinking habits
  • Poor hygiene
  • Drinking against the advice of their physician or healthcare provider

There are many programs in place that can help seniors that are abusing alcohol, and research shows that programs are more effective when they are targeted to people in this age group. If caregivers think a loved one may have a drinking problem, encourage them to reach out for help.

Comfort Keepers Can Help

It’s hard to stay connected to loved ones that live far away, and the trusted care team at Comfort Keepers can help. Staff caregivers can provide companionship and wellness support, remind clients to take medication, provide transportation to scheduled appointments, and support physician-prescribed exercise regimens and diets. As part of an individualized care plan, caregivers can let a senior’s care team know if there are changes in behavior or physical characteristics.

To learn more about in-home care services, call 603-536-6060 or visit www.comfortkeepers.com/plymouthnh.

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