Age and alcohol

Responsible Service of AlcoholAs we get older – our bodies find it harder and harder to tolerate alcohol and to digest it. Not only do our bodies find it harder to tolerate alcohol when consumed as we get older, but the risks associated with alcohol also rise due to a wide range of health factors.

Many older Australians (65 years and older) drink alcohol every day, but know and understand the consequences and side effects that are associated with consuming alcohol. However, they still continue to consume alcohol. As you get older – your ability to tolerate alcohol decreases due to:

  • Your ratio of body water to body fat decreases, so there is less water in your body to dilute the alcohol within the system. Therefore, older people that consume alcohol will have a higher blood alcohol concentrate in comparison to a younger person who drinks the same amount of alcohol.

  • Blood flow to your liver is decreased and, therefore, alcohol stays in the liver for a longer period of time before it can be broken down. This can increase the risk of damage to your liver.

  • As you get older – your mental and physical functions decrease, which increases the chances of accidents, falls or car accidents.

Also, due to medical issues, older persons are more likely to be on medications which should not be mixed with alcohol. If they are mixed with alcohol, it may lead to unwanted side effects from alcohol, the medicine or both.

As we get older – we have to take into consideration that our bodies cannot tolerate alcohol in the same way our bodies could when we were younger. Also, mixing alcohol and medicine can be dangerous and can cause short- to long-term side effects.