Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sloshed Seniors

In honor of my A+ annual checkup with the doctor yesterday ... let's talk aging and alcohol!

Seems seniors are having some real fun - I mean, issues - when it comes to drinking. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drinkers over 65 actually binge more often than college kids - 5-6 times a month! Younger kids might binge with more intensity, but still ... whatever happened to bingo? Bridge? Bocce balls?

Reasons for heavy drinking in this age group include disability, depression, bereavement and loneliness. You can probably add wrinkles to the list because they don't help.

But it's important to drink in moderation in our golden years because the liver can't process alcohol as well anymore. The American Association of Retired Persons (aarp.org) also warns that alcohol might react with medications and that it worsens conditions like osteoporosis, strokes and high blood pressure. And of course, falling and breaking a hip is a lot more likely if you're tipsy than if you're just sitting in your rocking chair watching Lawrence Welk.

The news is just as sobering in the UK. There were more alcohol-related illness and injuries among seniors in 2012-2013 than there were among kids aged 16-24 - the ones you expect to be falling down and flipping out. And since 2002, there's also been a 150% rise in overall hospital admissions among seniors due to alcohol abuse.

Now I know it's not easy growing older in our YOC (youth-obsessed culture). The loss of energy, health, hair ... that takes a toll on a person. Not to mention bloggers accusing you of watching Lawrence Welk from your rocking chair! I think my grandmother's generation was the last to do that and she's been gone twenty years. (RIP!)

But here's something to consider: if one of the reasons you're drinking too much is because you're depressed ... then you're probably depressed because you're drinking too much.  I know that from experience. Alcohol abuse can cause depression in itself. Let alone the feeling of being out of control or being a 'bad gram/gramps.' So keep the math simple: Two days off a week. And two months off a year. It's what I count on for many more healthy checkups in the future.

If you're intereseted in more information on seniors and alcohol, here's the National Institute on Aging Report from the National Institutes of Health.

Plus the article on seniors and binge drinking from the American Association of Retired Persons, the AARP.  (btw, it's important to note that binge drinking does not necessarily mean you're addicted to alcohol. I'll talk more about the difference later!)