If you are the caretaker for a loved one who is aging in place you may not be aware of their alcohol intake, but you should be. As we age our body cannot handle as much alcohol and our favorite cocktails start to become toxic for our bodies, especially if we overdue it. This can be increasingly true after a person turns 50 years old as studies have shown a number of new affects on your body from alcohol.
It is important to take note of how much alcohol your loved one is drinking for a variety of different reasons. A dependence on alcohol can be a sign of depression, but it can also be a sign of poor health to come as studies have shown the long-term and increasingly harmful affects of alcohol on aging individuals. The three things that experts say can happen with increasing frequency as we age include;
- Generally speaking those who are getting older have less water in their bloodstream as they lose muscle and replace it with fat. How would this affect the result of alcohol on your body. When you have less water in your bloodstream there isn’t as much liquid to dilute the alcohol and therefore the impacts are greater.
- Your liver produces an alcohol-digesting enzyme called ADH. As you get older your liver starts to decrease the amount of ADH it generates and therefore you can drink the same amount of alcohol that you always have but it will stay in your system longer and cause longer-lasting effects on your body. It should also be noted that women have reduced ADH production then men do, naturally, and that continues as they age.
- As we age our ability to determine how alcohol has affected us has diminished. If we don’t know how affected we are by the alcohol we are consuming it is very likely that we will start to consume more and more alcohol to try to get the same feeling we did previously. This can lead to an increased alcohol intake.
It is not uncommon for those that are aging in place to develop a dependency on alcohol so it is imperative that you as a caregiver are either in touch with their alcohol intake or are able to mention it to their medical provider so that she/he can keep an eye on it over time.
Being the caregiver to someone you love can make this task even more challenging because having these discussions with a loved one can be uncomfortable, but they are also incredibly important. Without honest and open communication with your loved one you cannot help her/him get the medical attention they may need.