Ageing And Alcohol


Coming from generations, many of whose ancestors were colonials, we are all too familiar with the term ‘Sundowners’ – those all too regular drinks that we enjoy each evening. However, as we age, what we are often unaware of is the addictive danger of this daily celebration. Seemingly even moderate amounts can contribute to serious health problems. And while daily G &Ts, or brandy & Cokes, may be enjoyable – they can make our lives more miserable than we could imagine. Why should this be? Some reasons are as follows:


  • Studies have shown that when 20 and 60-year olds consume similar amounts of alcohol, the older person’s blood-alcohol-level is 20% higher than the younger person… with a 90-year olds being up to 50% higher!
  • Older bodies dispose of alcohol differently than do younger bodies. And while small amounts may even reduce the cardiovascular risk they can intensify inherent problems associated with ageing – problems such as insomnia, poor appetite, depression, confusion and to a degree – even incontinence.
  • Alcohol also slows a person’s reactions, and hinders their coordination; thus increasing the risk of falls, or vehicular accidents, while driving.
  • It also makes elderly people more susceptible to colds, infections and other illnesses.
  • Alcohol and medications make bad bed-fellows… and given that seniors often take between two and seven medications per day; this can prove extremely dangerous.


As a result, the recommendation of the NIAA (The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse) is that people over 65 have no more than one drink per day. (One drink being 12-ounces of beer and 1.5 ounces of spirit). Add to this the fact that home-poured tots, generally over time, far exceed the volume dispensed in restaurants and pubs, and it becomes obvious that what may initially commence as a social habit and later transforms into an addiction, is exceedingly dangerous for older people.


And as older people are often alone; are not seen by friends and colleagues the degree to which they imbibe, often goes undetected. (As they drive less, fewer are encountered by police!) In addition when they fall asleep at the dinner table; or stumble, or forget what they discussed, excuses are made for their behaviour – others often think that it is just a normal part of ageing.


The original article was written by Ernest Hemingway