How many units of alcohol per week is healthy for elderly people
Health

How many units of alcohol per week is healthy for elderly people?

4 min read |

Do you know how many units of alcohol per week is healthy for elderly people?

It's easy not to be totally sure about units and how they are measured, so how can we know how much we’re consuming?

Many of us can inadvertently drink too much, which can increase the risk of some health conditions in later life.

In this article, we’ll discuss how many units of alcohol per week is healthy for elderly people.

Here’s a summary of what we’ll cover:

  • Knowing how many units of alcohol per week is safe for an elderly person can help you review your drinking habits.
  • Having a social drink can be enjoyable, however going over the limit of units allowed in a week can impact daily life.
  • In addition, regularly drinking more than the recommended units can increase your risk of developing long-term alcohol-related illnesses.
  • Taking steps to decrease your unit intake will likely improve your physical and mental wellbeing in later life.

What are units of alcohol?

Units are a way to represent the amount of pure alcohol in a drink and help consumers to keep track of their intake.

One unit is 10ml of pure alcohol, which is about the same amount as the body can process in an hour.

The amount of pure alcohol in a drink is expressed as a percentage of alcohol by volume (ABV).

But with so many sizes and strengths out there, it can be difficult to keep track of each drink’s quantities.

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Diet and nutrition for older people

How many units of alcohol per week is healthy for elderly people?

The average adult is advised to drink no more than 14 units per week

This is equivalent to six pints of beer, ten glasses of low strength wine, or 7 measures of a spirit. 

While this is the guidance,  it’s not recommended that older people continue drinking this amount. 

At the end of the day, alcohol is a toxin which impacts our bodies, even if we keep our drinking within the ‘healthy’ limits.

Why does alcohol affect the elderly

What are the risks of exceeding the limit?

As well as the dreaded hangover, drinking alcohol regularly can be damaging to a person’s physical and mental health. 

This can be harmful for older people, as they could be more at risk of developing alcohol related illness.

Which include heart disease, liver disease and stroke, all of which severely impact health and quality of life.

Why does alcohol affect the elderly?

As you get older, your tolerance to alcohol changes, and you can become more sensitive to it. 

This, coupled with other changes to physical and mental health in later life, can lead to accidents, injuries and ill-health.

It’s important to be aware of this, especially if you’re regularly drinking over the recommended 14 units a week. 

Here are some areas of concern when it comes to alcohol consumption in later life for you to consider.

Taking different medications

If you are on medication, it’s important to understand how it can interact with alcohol, should you decide to continue drinking.

Even over the counter drugs such as ibuprofen or allergy medication can change the way your body responds to treatment.

Potentially compromising organs, like the liver and kidneys, or making medicines less effective. 

Plus, it’s best to avoid side effects such as increased drowsiness or sickness, so consider cutting down or skipping it.

What are the risks of exceeding the limit

Increased risk of falls and injuries

While under the influence of alcohol, elderly people may be more at risk of fall.

This is due to the way alcohol affects balance and perception of your surroundings, which can make trip hazards even more hazardous.

Plus, alcohol thins the blood, which means that cuts can bleed more heavily and might require emergency treatment.

Cutting down on booze is one way to prevent falls in elderly loved ones and help them stay independent at home.

Alcohol and mental health

Though alcohol can be a stimulus and make you feel more sociable, it is also a depressant.

The highs and lows we get from drinking can affect your emotions as well as relationships with other people.

This is where drinking habits can combine with mental health issues, especially in the context of feeling insecure or lonely. 

Because the vicious cycle of using alcohol as a treatment for negative feelings like depression, only worsens them long term.

Why should I reduce my intake

Why should I reduce my intake?

Reducing your alcohol intake can do wonders for your mental and physical health as you get older.

While moderate drinking may not seem that harmful it can cause inflammation that stops your body from functioning at its best. 

So it’s important to try and seek alternatives or take steps to reduce your overall alcohol intake. 

Even if you’re not ready to cut down, being aware of the way alcohol affects you is a good first step.

How can I reduce my alcohol intake

How can I reduce my alcohol intake?

There are many ways to reduce your alcohol intake without it feeling like a chore or limitation.

First of all, remember that you can still drink up to 14 units a week if you want to. 

It’s also recommended to spread out your alcohol consumption over the week, so you have days off and avoid bingeing

Nowadays, there are lots of quality alcohol free alternatives which are readily available in supermarkets and pubs and restaurants.

I am an older person, should I quit drinking?

Getting older doesn’t necessarily mean that you should stop drinking altogether. 

But being conscious of the effects alcohol has on your health, relationships and even finances is certainly something to consider.

There is no shame in drinking, but being transparent about your lifestyle habits will help you work out what’s healthy for you.

Of course, if you’re worried about how much you drink or are struggling to cut down, there’s help available.

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Finding a balance

Prioritising your health is key, but harsh limits can make it feel impossible to reach a personal goal. 

Finding a replacement for alcohol or even the situations in which you want to drink can naturally help you cut down. 

If going to the pub is your social time – why not experiment with another activity, where you can see friends away from drink.

Taking it step by step

Breaking habits is a challenge, but making small steps every day can make the task easier. 

Being fully sober is not on everyone’s list, but engaging in a healthier lifestyle will allow you to live life to the fullest.

Don’t feel guilty about having a drink now and then, as there are ways you can support yourself in the meantime.

Instead creating new micro-habits around drinking will help you make bigger changes in the future. 

Understanding the purpose of a living will

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Navigating this unfamiliar terrain can be confusing, so let us be your guide. 

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