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Senior Health: April is Alcohol Awareness Month

By Beth Brown, 9:00 am on

In honor of Alcohol Awareness Month, Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s and dementia care in Palm Beach, wants to shine a light on elderly alcoholism.

While over 40% of all individuals over the age of 65 indulge in an alcoholic beverage on occasion, it’s important to be aware of alcohol’s effect on seniors and know when one too many might really indicate alcohol abuse.

Alcohol Has a Stronger Impact on Seniors

As we age, alcohol begins to affect our bodies differently. Due to a decrease in lean mass, slower metabolism and often less water content in the body, alcohol not only affects seniors more quickly, but it stays in their systems longer. The same amount of alcohol that once may have left your loved one unaffected as a young adult may cause unwanted side effects such as slurred speech, memory trouble, and lack of coordination.

Alcohol and Medication Don’t Mix

As you and your loved one’s reliable Palm Beach caregiver probably already know, a lot of prescription medications should not be taken with alcohol. Alcohol may dilute or increase the given effect or side effects of a prescribed or over-the-counter medication, and some medications also contain up to 10 percent alcohol. Common medications that have adverse reactions with alcohol include aspirin, acetaminophen, arthritis medication, cough medicine, and laxatives.

When Should You Be Concerned?

While up to three servings of alcohol a day, or seven total each week, is considered within the normal range for a healthy senior citizen, anything above the norm indicates a possible problem. Also, be on the look out for irritability, sneaky behavior, or memory and mobility problems. Speak with your loved one’s physician and consider meeting with a trained counselor for advice. Alcoholism support groups also are a great way to receive help for potential drinking problems.

While a healthy senior should be able to imbibe on occasion, it is important to understand how alcohol can affect seniors. Try to suggest nonalcoholic beverages when you can and always double-check the instructions and side effects of your loved one’s medications.

For more information on senior health and wellness, reach out to the care experts at Palm Beach Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers can provide safety monitoring, run errands, assist with mobility, cook healthy meals, encourage physical activity, and offer companionship to your senior loved one on an hourly or live-in basis. Learn more here or call a trusted Care Manager at 561.429.8292 today to schedule a free in-home consultation.