"I'll be 68 in March. I've had a beer or two every night since I was in my mid-30s. Never had a problem until a few months ago. Lately, when I drink my beer, I feel a little tipsy. My son says I am slurring my words. What's going on?"
As people age, they may become more sensitive to alcohol's effects. The same amount of alcohol can have a greater effect on an older person than on someone who is younger. Over time, someone whose drinking habits haven't changed may find she or he has a problem.
Did you know?
Older women can have problems with alcohol. In fact, they are more sensitive than men to the effects of alcohol.
"I take medicine to keep my diabetes under control. Every night I have a couple of shots of whiskey. Now my doctor says I need to stop drinking. It isn't going to be easy, but I guess it's something I need to do to stay healthy."
Heavy drinking can make some health problems worse. It is important to talk to your doctor if you have problems like high blood sugar (diabetes). Heavy drinking can also cause health problems such as weak bones (osteoporosis).
Older adults are more likely to have health problems that can be made worse by alcohol. Some of these health problems are:
Talk with your doctor or other healthcare worker about how alcohol can affect your health.
"I was taking strong medicine for a bad cold. When I had my usual glass of wine at dinner, I felt dizzy. That's never happened before."
Many prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal remedies can be dangerous or even deadly when mixed with alcohol. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can safely drink alcohol. Read the labels on all of your medicines. Some labels say, "Do not use with alcohol."
Some problems mixing medicine and alcohol:
Facts about alcohol and aging:
Check off any reasons that sound true for you.
I would like to quit drinking because:
Some people can cut back on their drinking. Some people need to stop drinking altogether. Making a change in your drinking habits can be hard. Don't give up! If you do not reach your goal the first time, try again. Ask your family and friends for help. Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble quitting. Get the help you need.
Publication Date: June 2011
Page Last Updated: November 2, 2011