About 1 in 10 older adults drink alcohol excesses, which puts them at greater risk for falls and other medical conditions.
This is clear from new research published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
"We focus so much on young people and their risky drinking," said senior author Joseph Palamar, adjunct professor of public health at NYU Langone Health. "However, this investigation reminds us that we also need to keep an eye on the older population."
Palamar and colleagues analyzed data on 10,927 people over the age of 65 who participated in the National Drug Use and Health Survey between 201
An estimated 10.6 percent of respondents reported binge drinking (five or more drinks at once in men and four or more in women) within the last 30 days.
"Many Patients I do not know that their body becomes more sensitive to alcohol as they get older," said senior study author Dr. Benjamin Han, Assistant Professor, Department of Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Medicine, NYU Langone Health. "They still think they can drink in the same way, but the risk increases considerably."
In fact, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that people over the age of 65 who are otherwise healthy and without chronic diseases, limit their risks to no more than three drinks a day.
However, according to the National Council on Aging, 80 percent of older adults suffer from at least one chronic condition, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke or diabetes.
Binge According to experts, drinking can aggravate some chronic diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes.
"If you drink regularly and take blood thinners, there is a risk of stomach bleeding," Dr. Ronan Factora, a geriatrician at the Cleveland Clinic, who was not involved in the new research. "Alcohol excesses can also lead to an increase in sugar content, which can lead to problems for diabetics."
It can also lead to other problems, such as B. Forgetting the intake of drugs.
"Many patients are already six years old, seven or more medications," said Han. "When they drink, they often do not remember to take their medication."
Research also found that cannabis use was higher in binge drinkers – a worrying mix, experts said.
the risk of falls, "Palamar said.
Even without the added effects of alcohol or pot, falls are the leading cause of broken bones, trauma, and death in older adults, according to the National Council on Aging.
External Experts said it was crucial for doctors to talk to their elderly patients about alcohol and drug use.
"If you do not look for it, you will not find it. And if you can not find it, you can. "I do not do anything about it," Dr. Michael Wasserman, a geriatrician in Thousand Oaks, California, and a member of the not-for-profit American Geriatrics Society.
Wasserman told NBC News there had to be much more research on people over the age 85 in particular.
"The field of geriatrics is for me still" border medicine "because we do not have enough data," said Wasserman. "Historically, we have not seen so much alcohol in this population."
There is some evidence that the rate of excessive alcohol consumption in older adults is slowly increasing. The same group of researchers published a similar study in 2017 that looked at alcohol excesses in older adults from 2005 to 2014.
Although the two studies presented slightly different questions about alcohol use, less than 9 percent of over-65s said they had participated in alcohol excesses in the previous study over the past month, compared to more than 10 percent in the previous month of the current study.
"Alcohol excesses are far more common than we think," Factora said, adding that the new ones are much more likely to be underestimating the true percentage of older adult binge drinkers. The data was based on self-reported alcohol consumption and some may have opted not to disclose their drinking habits.
It is certain that physicians should discuss the issue with their elderly patients.
"Residents and medical students may feel a bit uncomfortable asking a 90-year-old grandmother whether she's consuming alcohol or drugs or other substances," Han said.
"But if [she] drinks and falls too much, it will do much more harm than [if] someone who is 21 years old," Palamar added.
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