ALCOHOL, from Page 23
tify among the aging population, since most signs — such as the reduced ability to function, the increased risk of falling and the exacerbation of some medical conditions — can all also be attributed to old age.
“Muddled thinking,” Gustafson explained, “would be one thing that can also be mistaken for dementia and Alzheimer’s…. As we age, we just don’t metabolize [alcohol] as well…. If you are drinking a lot, then you may not be getting the nutrients you need and you will be gaining weight.”
Weight gain increases the risk for many other health problems and can be a key sign of overconsumption among seniors.
In a study funded by the NIAAA and published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, it was found that 9 percent of Medicare beneficiaries age 65 years or older engaged in unhealthy drinking. The NIAAA states that the drinking guidelines for healthy adults over age 65 who do not take medications are no more than three drinks on a given day or seven total drinks in a week.
However, as Gustafson explained, it is important to remember that, “in large amounts, it doesn’t matter what your age is, it can be very detrimental to your health, your liver.” If an individual is exceeding these guidelines, it may be time to scale-back alcohol intake, she said.
The best way to avoid heavy drinking during the holidays is to be conscious of alcohol intake as much as possible.
“If you can pace yourself and throw yourself more into the conversation and into the holiday season,” Gustafson recommended, “make it more of a celebration of talking to people, seeing people you haven’t seen for a long time.”
Sipping on one glass of wine in your hand for the night, for example, is one way to avoid drinking too much.
Overall, “if you exercise regularly, given your body what it needs, take care of your emotions, work consciously every day on keeping a healthy balance in your life,” Gustafson explained, “you will feel much better when you get older in all levels of your life.”
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