Community Blog

The Effects of Alcohol for Older Adults

By Ketan Shah

Caregivers in Los Altos CA

There has been a debate for some time over whether or not alcohol is good for us. Some believe that there are a number of health benefits if it is consumed in moderation, while others believe no amount of alcohol is good for the body, especially the liver.

While there is some truth in both sides of this debate, one factor to consider is the age of the person drinking an alcoholic beverage. With age comes many changes, which means the body may not be able to break down these adult drinks the way it could in the early adult years. Whether your loved one needs a few drinks every night or only drinks on special occasions, you need to understand how alcohol can affect an elderly adult’s body.

Dangers of Alcohol and Seniors

Excessive drinking at any age is extremely dangerous for your health, but it becomes even more hazardous for older adults. Below are some of the affects these beverages can have on your loved one’s health.

  • Higher blood alcohol concentration than other age groups. Seniors are unable to retain as much water in the body as they could in their younger days, so they are more prone to dehydration. This causes the effects of alcohol to take place very quickly, including slurred speech and the inability to concentrate.
  • Can be lethal if combined with medications. Most seniors have between one and five chronic health problems, requiring them to take both prescription and over-the-counter medications. When combined with alcohol, some of these medications may not work properly and can even cause some new and frightening symptoms to occur, including nausea, dizziness, confusion, lack of balance, headaches, and injuries.
  • Increases the chances of developing certain diseases. If your elderly parent has been drinking heavily for many years, they could be at an increased risk of some cancers and immune system disorders, along with damaged bones and muscles.

Types of Medicines that Don’t Mix with Alcohol

Drinking with any medication is risky, but can be especially dangerous for an elder’s health if combined with the following drugs:

  • Arthritis medications or aspirin: Increases the risk of bleeding in the stomach
  • Acetaminophen: Higher risk of liver damage
  • Cold or allergy medicines with antihistamines: Increases drowsiness and lack of coordination
  • Medications for sleep, pain, anxiety or depression: Increases drowsiness, breathing problems, memory problems, and rapid heartbeat
  • Medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, gout, heart failure, and ulcers: The conditions can be made worse if drinking while taking them

If you are concerned over your loved one’s drinking habits, consider having caregivers spend time with your loved one as a way to offer them companionship, reduce their feelings of isolation, and monitor their drinking.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring caregivers in Los Altos, CA, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers today (408) 259-5930.