By On March 10th, 2008

Under-age drinking is not the only issue

Under-age drinking is not the only issue. Apparently, older-age drinking can be just as hazardous. According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 10% of Medicare recipients drink too much. The study, which looked at a sample of 12,000 beneficiaries between the ages of 65 and 70, found that men were heavier drinkers, among the overindulging group, than women. Additionally, the study found that one quarter of the participants drank within guidelines, while two-thirds did not drink at all. However, among those that do overindulge, health issues can arise. Alcohol, when used along side medications, can interact badly. Alcohol can also increase the risks of accidents, cause lessened function, and complicate medical problems. The following is an excerpt from Medpage Today that reviews the study:

Some older beneficiaries may not be aware that the recommended drinking limits are lower than those for younger people, the researchers said. Alcohol can exacerbate some medical problems, reduce the ability to function, increase the risk of falls, and working negatively with medication.

They said “happy hours” in some assisted-living facilities and other settings for older adults play a significant role in unhealthy drinking for certain subgroups.

Older adults’ higher sensitivity and poorer ability to metabolize alcohol contribute to a higher risk at any given level, the researchers wrote. Alcohol can exacerbate medical disorders, such as congestive heart failure and hypertension, or cause adverse interactions with medications, they said.

The older-age drinking data came from the 2003 Access to Care file of the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, and included 12,413 community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries older than 65.

Unhealthy alcohol use by older adults was defined in relation to two parameters of recommended limits: monthly use exceeding 30 drinks and ”heavy episodic” drinking of four or more drinks in any single day during a typical month in the previous year.

Of the Medicare beneficiaries, 65% reported no alcohol consumption during a typical month in the previous year, and 26% reported drinking within guidelines. However, 9% reported unhealthy drinking, with a higher prevalence among men (16%) than women (4%).

Approximately 3.7% exceeded the 30-drink monthly limit, 2.2% exceeded the single-day limit of three drinks, and 3.1% exceeded both limits.

Click here to read the rest of this article from Medpage Today

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