Alcohol is a large part of many cultures. From celebrations to mourning, alcohol will make an appearance. What many may fail to take in consideration is as we age our tolerance for alcohol changes. Our tolerance for alcohol may decrease as we age secondary to the following:
- Less muscle to absorb alcohol
- Increased time to absorb alcohol
- Decreased water in the body
Alcoholism does not stop once you hit a certain age. The National Council on Alcohol and Drug dependence cites that up to 11% of elderly hospital admissions are because of drug or alcohol related issues. This rate is similar to the rate of elderly being admitted for cardiac arrest.
Also, as we age the prevalence of the number of medications one is on is increased. Medication interactions with alcohol increase the likelihood of acute episodes or even hospitalizations.
Furthermore, interactions as well as prolonged use of alcohol can lead to dementia. Alcohol induced dementia impacts memory, learning, and other higher level cognitive skills. Symptoms may include:
- Repetition of same story or questions with no recollection of asking prior
- Loss of muscle coordination
- One may appear poorly nourished
A certain type of syndrome, Korsakoff Syndrome, is most commonly caused by alcohol misuse and abuse. Korsakoff is a chronic memory disorder caused by a severe deficiency of thiamine (B-1). An individual with Korsakoff syndrome may exhibit within normal limits of social skills and other cognitive skills but suffer from memory gaps. They can have an extensive conversation with someone or confabulate information because they may actually believe the information they presented, but once the conversation is over, they will have no recollection.
The Alzheimer’s Association, cites available data that 25% of those who develop Korsakoff Syndrome eventually recover, almost 50% improve but do not completely recover, and the other 25% do not recover. In order to recover it is vital to abstain from alcohol.
It is important to note, alcohol induced dementia occurs after a prolonged period of extensive alcohol use. If you are or your family members are noticing changes mentioned above, speak with your Doctor. If you are having difficulty recalling what is said in Doctor Appointments or need assistance getting to your appointments, Perfect Solutions for Seniors, a senior in home care agency, will be happy to help!