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More Older Adults Are Binge Drinking

Traditionally, people tend to associate “binge drinking” (or large consumptions of alcohol in one sitting) with younger generations. Perhaps a college student going to an all-night party. Or a 20-something have a wild weekend in Las Vegas. Well interestingly enough, a new study has revealed that many older Americans fall prey to these habits as well.

According to The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, roughly 10.6 percent of all U.S. adults aged 65 or older classify as “current binge drinkers.” It went on to reveal that males make up most of that population and that they engage in frequent cannabis usage.

Not only is that data rather surprising, it also is quite concerning. For one thing, seniors are typically in much more fragile health than the younger generations who binge drink. And overdoing it on alcohol can have dangerous side effects for this sect.

“Binge drinking, even episodically or infrequently, may negatively affect other health conditions by exacerbating disease, interacting with prescribed medications, and complicating disease management,” study author Dr. Benjamin H. Han explained to Medical News Today.

A majority of those researched for the study did have some chronic condition that was exacerbated by their alcoholic tendencies. For example, 41 percent of those surveyed who admitted to binge drinking had high blood pressure. And an additional 17 percent suffered from diabetes.

And what exactly constitutes binge drinking, per the study? That would be the consumption of five or more drinks in one sitting. Now seeing how 10 percent of the participants answered “Yes” to that, we can definitely see cause for concern.

Of course, this all begs the question as to why older Americans are engaging in these habits. Obviously there are a myriad of reasons, but hard evidence has shown an increase in depression among seniors. Dealing with loss, chronic health issues or even losing one’s sense of purpose after retirement can certainly lead people to consume alcohol in larger quantities.

The important factor, per Dr. Han, is to make these people (and their families) aware of the dangers associated with these behaviors. There are real risks involved with binge drinking when you reach an advanced age.

“Our results underscore the importance of educating, screening, and intervening to prevent alcohol-related harms in older adults,” Dr. Han concluded. “These are people who may not be aware of their heightened risk for injuries and how alcohol can exacerbate chronic diseases.”