Binge drinking can be a especially dangerous for seniors
by Herb Weisbaum
August 8th 2019
Binge drinking – having 5 or more alcoholic beverages at one time – is typically associated with college kids and young adults. But new research shows binge drinking is also a problem for seniors: More than 10% of those over 65 do it.
It’s a troubling trend because as we get older, we should be consuming less alcohol.
Dr. Wayne McCormick, head of Gerontology at UW Medicine, says alcohol is tough on the kidneys, liver and brain.
“If there’s any cognitive impairment at all, it just amplifies that,” he said. “So, if people have very early dementing illness, like Alzheimer’s disease, it could exponentially make that worse.”
Dr. McCormick says excessive drinking can also lead to debilitating or life-threatening accidents.
“If people lose a little balance, which is not at all unusual as we age, it would make that far worse and greatly increase the risk of falling,” McCormick explained.
Seniors often take a variety of medications. Alcohol changes the way the body metabolizes those drugs, making side effects worse, which can also be dangerous.
For all these reasons, seniors should limit their alcohol intake or not drink at all, experts say.