The liver’s main function is to regulate what is in your blood, from the glucose to the protein. As we’ve discussed in the diabetes section, alcohol can stop your liver from filtering glucose as it breaks down the alcohol, resulting in long-term damage to the arteries does alcohol make you look older in your liver and all over your body. In this process of breaking down alcohol, the body also produces bad material that can damage the liver even more. Years of abuse can create scar tissue all over the liver, which can ultimately render it unusable.

  • A person with a heart condition needs to consider the risks of drinking alcohol.
  • Drinking alcohol can also aggravate co-occurring health conditions in older adults.

Pounding water and electrolytes like I did when I was younger was no longer a fix. A RAND corporation study found a 41% increase of heavy drinking (four or more drinks on one occasion) among women during the pandemic. Unless a senior is incompetent or poses imminent danger to themselves or others, there is little that family, friends or even their doctor can do about their drinking.

Treatment Services For Alcohol Addiction

However, it may be a good idea to abstain from drinking if they have certain medical issues or are on particular medications. If you are concerned about your alcohol intake, be sure to contact your doctor. While an occasional drink is fine, consuming more than what is considered a moderate amount of alcohol has been shown to have a significant effect on hormonal levels, particularly testosterone.

Dr. Schwartz suggests limiting sugar-laden mixed cocktails, which can increase the inflammatory effects of alcohol further and may cause you to drink in excess. I ask Koob if just drinking more water would dilute the alcohol in my system. Staying hydrated may help limit a blood-alcohol surge, he says, but the physiology of aging will prevail. And the old trick of alternating drinks with something non-alcoholic can help you pace yourself, he adds.

What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?

Also, older women are more sensitive than men to the effects of alcohol. Katie has always enjoyed a glass of wine to unwind a few times per week. In recent months, her one glass has turned into two or more, sometimes even a whole bottle. Katie has told herself she was just releasing the pressure of balancing work and helping to care for her grandchildren.

But drinking at levels beyond that “accelerates some of the aging process” in the brain, Koob says. Our brains normally start shrinking in middle age, but older people who drink too much show marked loss of volume in the frontal cortex, a 2018 study found. The association seemed to only be significant for people drinking more than 17 units per week, suggesting that it takes at least a moderate level of alcohol consumption before the telomere damage kicks in. Furthermore, many prescriptions, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, dietary supplements and herbal remedies can be dangerous or even deadly when mixed with alcohol.

What is an Addiction?

Sometimes the consequences of seniors’ drinking habits are mistaken for other age-related health conditions, such as dementia or depression, but increasing alcohol use deserves special attention. This is particularly important as the number of older Americans is growing rapidly and alcohol use among seniors continues to increase. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than one in 10 seniors report binge drinking (consuming four to five drinks in about 2 hours) during the past month. Furthermore, 1.6 percent of seniors have been diagnosed with an alcohol abuse disorder, although alcoholism is admittedly underreported and untreated in this age group.