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Alcohol and older adults

Your age, body weight and other health conditions will impact how you respond to alcohol. 
As you age, you become more sensitive to the effects of alcohol, and your body processes alcohol more slowly. This means that drinking the same amount as when you were younger has a greater effect. It also means that you are more vulnerable to the negative effects of alcohol. These negative effects can include: 
  • Loss of strength. Balance and coordination can increase risk of injury due to falls.
  • Worsening of some health issues, such as liver damage, diabetes, heart or blood pressure and stomach problems.
  • Causing or worsening of some mental health problems such as confusion, memory loss and depression.
  • Interactions with medications. Some medications don’t work as well when taken with alcohol; others intensify alcohol’s effects, making you more prone to impairment and falls. Many medications should not be taken with alcohol.
  • Loneliness and isolation, which can lead to drinking alcohol to cope. 

As you reach your 70s, 80s and 90s, consider decreasing your alcohol consumption and perhaps even not drinking at all, especially if you have a health condition.
Any reduction in alcohol use has benefits. See Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health for more information. 

If you’re worried about your drinking, speak to your healthcare provider or another qualified professional to seek help and support. 

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