Elderly people find they often must be careful with the foods and drinks they consume. Changes in metabolism and digestion can result in troublesome effects that didn’t occur in their younger days. So, it is with alcohol. Enjoying an alcoholic beverage may have been a pattern in a person’s younger days, but, with age, excessive amounts of alcohol can be a problem. The amount of alcohol an elderly person consumes can have an effect on their health and their mental function.
Alcohol and Cognitive Function
Studies by health experts have found that moderate consumption of alcohol, no more than one or two drinks per day, is safe for the elderly. In fact, some evidence indicates that a small amount of alcohol can help to stave off cognitive decline. However, when the drinking goes beyond moderate use, the data becomes more ominous. More than 14 drinks per week put older individuals at risk for a number of alcohol-related problems.
Special Problems With Alcohol and the Elderly
When these individuals get older, they may take medications that interact negatively with alcohol. Excessive amounts of alcohol appear to affect the ability to think clearly and remember, in older people. Alcohol can also contribute to falls and problems with driving. This data has caused health professionals to ask about and carefully assess how much alcohol elderly individuals drink, to avoid the risk for negative interactions and dementia.
Alcohol and the Brain
Moderate alcohol consumption can reduce stress and improve blood circulation to the brain, which can hold off the effects of aging on the brain tissue. Having an occasional drink is also related to social interaction, which is clearly associated with better brain function in the elderly. The data indicates that having an occasional drink is not a cause for concern among the elderly unless the drinking becomes excessive or is associated with binge drinking.
In-Home Help Can Ensure Your Loved One’s Well-Being & Safety
If your loved one is experiencing symptoms of dementia, they may require more help for daily tasks, such as grooming, shopping, cooking and transportation. An in-home elder care agency can provide a wide range of services to ensure these elders have appropriate care as their needs change.
Being aware of the effects of alcohol on the elderly can help you to ensure that your older loved one can thrive in their later years. Although moderate alcohol use can have a beneficial effect on brain function, too much can impair thinking and memory. When your elderly loved one needs additional care and monitoring, consider in-home elder services to provide the right level of care they need.