Week Commencing Monday 11th November 2019 has been #AlcoholAwarenessWeek
Although most of us occasionally enjoy a tipple or two, it is important to know the implications alcohol can have on your physical and mental health.
Many of our Progress Lifeline service users are aged over 65 and because of physiological changes associated with ageing, older people are at increased risk of experiencing adverse physical effects from drinking relatively modest amounts of alcohol. Alcohol, together with tobacco use, has the greatest impact on physical health for older adults, causing cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurological and respiratory problems.
Older people also tend to have higher blood levels of alcohol than younger people who drink the same amount. The difference can be attributed to a lower body-mass-to-water ratio and less efficient metabolism. There is also ample evidence that the threshold at which alcohol causes harm is lower in older drinkers than in younger people.
In older people, heavy prolonged alcohol misuse may increase the risk of developing vascular dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, may have other indirect effects on brain cells, and may have a direct toxic effect, producing “alcoholic dementia”.
As people age, their ratio of body water to fat falls and their liver becomes less efficient, which can increase the effects of alcohol and other substances. The responsiveness of the brain also alters, so that alcohol produces a more rapid depressant effect, resulting in impaired coordination and memory, for example.
As we get older, our bodies change. Outside, we notice lines, wrinkles, extra weight. Our skin is perhaps not quite as strong or flexible as it used to be. And inside, we lose muscle, gain fat, break down & alcohol more slowly.
This means that we become more sensitive to the effects of alcohol. We also react more slowly and tend to lose our sense of balance. So, even if we drink the same amount of alcohol, as we get older it is likely to affect us more than younger people.
If you think you’re drinking too much, NHS support is available. Find alcohol support services in your area: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-support/
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