Despite these benefits, the dangers of alcohol are considerable. The incidents of driving problems are high in the elderly population. Any potential benefit of alcohol is more than cancelled by the dangers in alcohol –related diseases such as addictive alcoholism, cirrhosis of the liver, high blood pressure and depression. Alcohol has also been shown to produce deficits in intellectual and behavior functioning. It may accelerate normal aging or cause premature aging of the brain. Magnetic Resonance Imaging techniques have shown more extensive brain tissue loss in subjects with alcoholism than in those without alcoholism. And research also shows that shrinkage of the frontal lobe increases with the consumption of alcohol.
So what can seniors do to understand their own threshold of alcohol consumption?
Here are a few guidelines:
1 .If you don’t drink, don’t start. The risks far outweigh the benefits.
2 .If you do drink, limit yourself to one drink a day ( 4-5 drinks over the course of a week).
3. Do not engage in binge drinking which can bring about irregular heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, increased risk for heart disease and strokes.
4. If you are on medication, do not drink at all. Even over the counter drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin or tylenol, when taken with alcohol, can damage stomach lining and cause liver problems. Alcohol, taken with antihistamines, is known to increase drowsiness and can lead to impaired driving or accidents.
5. If you feel you have a drinking problem, consult your physician and be proactive about getting treatment options.t