COLUMBUS, OHIO (CBS) – It only gets harder for adults to handle alcohol as they get older, according to an addiction medicine specialist. Aging also makes people more vulnerable to alcoholism, he says.
Ohio State University clinical psychologist Brad Lander writes that older people process alcohol less efficiently in their bodies than when they were younger.
“As we age, it takes longer for the body to break down alcohol,” he says. “It stays in the system longer. Tolerance also decreases.”
Lander says that among seniors, women are more likely than men to develop alcoholism. And while younger people might be more likely to drink in social situations, seniors can up their consumption to “seek relief from the bored, loneliness and grief that are common with aging.”
Excessive drinking is associated with a number of health problems that are complicated by aging, according to Lander. That includes cancer, balance problems that can lead to more falls, diabetes, high blood pressure, liver problems, early-onset dementia, depression and decreased sexual functioning.
The average senior should not have more than three drinks in one day or seven drinks per week, Lander says.
How much drinking is cause for concern?
“The general rule of thumb is to take a close look and honestly assess if drinking is causing any life problems,” Lander says. “If it’s causing difficulties with your health, relationships, daily functioning or emotions, then it’s too much.”