Seniors, please take care with alcohol

By Jonathan Acton -

Home Instead Senior Care - 044 938 5260

It’s not Christmas yet, but since March people have been drinking a little more alcohol than usual. I know I’m guilty of an extra tipple of two at times over recent months.

We are all excusing ourselves this extra treat because of the hardships we are facing, but it is time to hop back on the wagon for me at least till Christmas is really with us.

The isolation and loneliness that Covid-19 has brought to seniors has also forced them to have an extra beer or two at times.

Here are some interesting facts that might help some people think twice about overdoing it with alcohol over the coming months.

Older People are at more risk of harm from alcohol

Older people are more susceptible to the effects of alcohol due to their body’s decreasing ability to break it down. Alcohol circulates in an older person’s body for a longer time and the effects of drinking last longer.

This in turn can leave older people vulnerable to a host of risks including falls, accidents, poor nutrition, dehydration health problems and financial difficulties.

Reducing the risk

For adults, the recommended low-risk limits for alcohol consumption are:

Men: 17 standard drinks (=170 grams (or 210mls) of pure alcohol), spread out over the course of a week, with at least two to three alcohol-free days.

Women: 11 standard drinks (=110 grams (or 140mls) of pure alcohol), spread out over the course of a week, with at least two to three alcohol-free days.

The low-risk guidelines apply to healthy, adults in the 18-65 age range. If you are an older person, you will need to drink less to stay within the low-risk range. And there are times older people are advised not to drink at all – for example, if on particular kinds of medication and if experiencing particular kinds of physical or mental health problems.

Keeping an eye on your drinking is important if you want to keep health risks to a minimum. Knowing how much you drink will allow you to see if you’re within the recommended low risk weekly limit.

And you don’t need to have a drink problem to benefit from drinking less. Reducing your alcohol intake has many advantages including:

• Increased energy

• Better sleep

• Less weight gain

• Increased stability in mood.

What is a standard drink?

A standard drink contains about 10g of pure alcohol.

One standard drink is:

• A half pint of lager

• A single measure of spirits

• A small glass of wine (around 100mls)

• A bottle of any alcopop

• A bottle of wine contains about 8 standard drinks.

Remember it’s difficult to pour a standard drink at home without the guide of pub measures.

Alcohol and your body

Drinking alcohol puts older people at increased risk of developing diseases and conditions some of which are caused by alcohol, while alcohol is a contributory factor in others. These include:

• Cancer of the mouth, tongue and throat

• Oesophageal cancer

• Laryngeal cancers

• Acute pancreatitis

• Cardiovascular diseases including stroke and heart disease

• Liver cirrhosis

• Liver cancer

• Urinary incontinence.

Alcohol could affect your ability to look after yourself properly and this could lead to long term health problems. It’s important for older people to eat properly, sleep well and remain warm.

Alcohol might make you feel warm – however it actually leads to heat-loss. Alcohol affects the appetite and can lead to increased tiredness. Drinking could also affect memory, leading you to forget your medicines. Alcohol may also interfere with the effects of medications you are on.

You may be surprised to learn that most drink-related deaths and diseases actually occur among drinkers who are not dependent on alcohol.

This article has been quite sobering and at times like this we could all do with a bit of a lift.

Welcome Lauryn-Bridget

Well, last Friday we certainly got a bit of a lift in our house. I am very pleased to say that our lives have been brightened up by the arrival of our little girl last Friday.

We called her Lauryn-Bridget in memory of our grandparents. Lauryn has two very proud loving parents and one amazing big brother, who are all so happy to welcome her into this crazy world. We welcomed her home to Castletown Geoghegan on Tuesday and we are all thrilled.