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Study: Seniors may be drinking too much

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A recent survey found people 65 or older, especially men, are drinking more than they should be. According to The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 14 percent of older men reported drinking five or more drinks at one time in the past month, compared with 3 percent of older women.

The disparity between men and women considered “at-risk” drinkers, those who consume two or more drinks per day, was not as great. Thirteen percent of men and 8 percent of women fit this description.

Overall, binging was more prevalent among the smokers and the wealthy. Women who abused prescription drugs also showed a tendency to binge.

“A surprising number of older Americans are engaging in drinking patterns that are putting their health at risk, yet these problems often go unrecognized,” said Dan G. Blazer MD, PhD, the study’s lead author and JP Gibbons Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke. Blazer attributed the tendency to overlook older Americans’ drinking problems to doctors’ tendencies to focus on younger people.

“They also don’t show the typical signs of alcohol dependence,” he said, referring to middle-aged and older adults.

Binge drinking can bring about a range of negative effects from minor injuries, to more serious health risks like stroke, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, neurological damage and poor diabetes control. For older Americans who may already be suffering one or more health problems, heavy drinking could exacerbate their condition, making long-term care planning all the more necessary.


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