As we get older, there is no reason why safe and sensible drinking shouldn't continue to be an
enjoyable social activity.
The tolerance level to alcohol is significantly lowered in older people due to reasons
- A fall in the ratio of body water to fat – less water for the alcohol to be diluted in.
- Decreased hepatic blood flow – liver will receive more damage.
- Inefficiency of liver enzymes – alcohol will not be broken down as effectively.
- Altered responsiveness of the brain – alcohol will affect the brain at a faster rate.
As older people are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol the question has been raised as to whether or not
the recommended daily units are suitable for older people as these limits are based or research relating to
younger age groups.
However it is important to take into consideration that as we get older there may be health changes that need
medication. It is important to talk to your GP about the effects of drinking any alcohol with medication.
Identified drinking types in older people
- Early-Onset drinkers or ‘Survivors’ - Refers to those who have a continuing problem with alcohol which
developed earlier in life.
- Late-Onset drinkers or ‘Reactors’ – Refers to those who started problematic drinking later on in life.
- Intermittent or Binge drinkers – Refers to those who drink occasionally but sometimes drink to excess.
Recommended daily units are based on an average person; not everyone needs or wants to drink this amount
to achieve their expected effect from alcohol regardless of gender or age.
Heavy drinking over a long period of time should be avoided as this can lead to dependency and/or alcohol
Drinking less alcohol is less likely to lead to loss of inhibitions which in turn has a less detrimental effect on