Study Finds 1 In 10 Senior Citizens Engages In Binge Drinking

July 31, 2019 - 5:13 pm

(WWJ) When you hear about binge drinking, most likely young people come to mind. But according to a new study, a growing number of senior citizens are doing it, too. 

Research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found about one in 10 adults over age 65 engages in binge drinking, which is defined as five or more drinks at a time for men and four or more for women.

Dr. Sean Jayakar, a geriatric expert with Ascension St John Hospital, said the numbers are concerning as drinking alcohol puts older people at risk for a range of health problems. 

"As we get older we don't process the alcohol as well as we did when we were younger," he told WWJ's Dr. Deanna Lites. "Our systems just don't work as well; especially our liver. Everything over time degenerates."

"It definitely has a much more profound effect on you (as you age)," Jayakar said. "It increases your risk of falls, confusion. Perhaps this older adult won't remember to take his or her medications, and it increased the risk of bleeding, too; especially if a lot of these older patients are on blood thinners."

Jayaka said family members should be paying attention to how much their older loved ones are drinking, and not be afraid to ask about it. 

"I would just bring it up gently," he said. "If you suspicious is high and your parent is denying alcohol use, I think then is the time to contact their physician, and maybe you could even accompany them to the physician appointment and discuss these things...Or maybe contact one of their friends or other family members who they might be more forthcoming."

Jayakar noted that the number of seniors binge drinking has spiked over the past decade.

As to why?

"Maybe just these Baby Boomers perhaps consumed more alcohol and different substances, as opposed to the older generation," Jayakar said. "So as they're getting older they've retained the same habits."

Read more about the study here