News

Alcohol consumption is a particular problem in the elderly


BZgA warns of the risks from alcohol consumption in old age
Problematic use of alcohol is not only relatively widespread among adolescents and young adults. Even in older adulthood, many people show risky consumption behavior with alcohol, according to the current communication from the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA). "Estimates assume that 15 percent of people over the age of 60 risk drinking alcohol and thus endanger their health in many ways," reports the BZgA.

According to the BZgA, a total of around 14,000 people aged 60 and over had to be treated in hospital in 2015 due to acute alcohol poisoning. In view of the high number of people affected, the Federal Center has launched a new section “For the Elderly” on the website of the alcohol prevention campaign www.kenn-dein-limit.de, which provides information on the responsible use of alcohol in old age. The BZgA also explicitly points out that alcohol degrades poorly in old age and can therefore be particularly harmful.

Older people are not aware of the increased risk
"Many older people are not aware that alcohol has a stronger effect on them than in younger adulthood," emphasizes Dr. Heidrun Thaiss, head of the BZgA. The reason for this is, among other things, "that in the elderly the alcohol in the liver is broken down more slowly and the fluid balance also changes in old age." It was also important to point out that special care should be taken with alcohol when taking medication. "The following applies here: in case of doubt, seek a conversation with the doctor treating you," says Thaiss.

Numerous health risks from alcohol consumption in old age
The risks of alcohol consumption that increase with age include, in addition to an increased risk of diseases of the liver with risky alcohol consumption, the risk of cancer. The BZgA reports that the risk of excessive alcohol consumption is increased, particularly in cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus. According to the Federal Central Cardiovascular Diseases, such as cardiac arrhythmias and high blood pressure, the consequences can also be. For this reason, people over the age of 65 are recommended a lower value for low-risk alcohol consumption. A maximum of ten grams of pure alcohol per day, i.e. a small glass of wine (0.1 l) or a small glass of beer (0.25 l) are allowed. However, at least two days of abstinence from alcohol should be observed, reports the BZgA, referring to the recommendation of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Causes of abusive alcohol consumption in old age
The BZgA mentions, for example, the changed living conditions in older age as possible causes for a riskier use of alcohol in old age. Entry into retirement is a difficult time for some people, according to the Federal Headquarters. Here, many are affected by increased phases with depressive moods. The result is often abusive alcohol consumption, which ultimately leads to addiction. The special section for older people affected on the Internet portal www.kenn-dein-limit.de therefore also provides information about the warning signs and how older people can prevent this development. (fp)

Author and source information



Video: Faculty of Old Age Psychiatry Live update session and memory service guidance (January 2022).