“A little of what you fancy”, as the saying goes, does you no harm and the same is true of alcohol. Unfortunately, as with all things to do with aging, our ability to fend off its negative effects declines markedly after 50. A college student can binge late into the night and still recover in time for lectures. As the Oscar winning film Educating Rita showed, middle-aged professors can’t! While inebriated youths are exhibiting a kind of rite of passage, drunk seniors are primarily just embarrassing or, worse, obnoxious. Note that alcohol can also stimulate nicotine cravings in smokers leading to a double jeopardy.
In the short-term excessive alcohol impairs a host of faculties including judgment, vision, coordination and concentration which is why a drunk motorist is so dangerous. The loss of inhibition and increased aggression that alcohol engenders may also lead one to repent at leisure over regrettable incidents incurred while under the influence.
In the longer-term alcohol promotes a long list of life-threatening or unwelcome and unsightly conditions. There is almost no part of the body that is not potentially at risk – the brain, the heart, the lungs, the liver, the kidneys, the stomach, the pancreas, the intestine, the bones and the skin. Alcohol can lead to impotence, infertility, weight gain, diabetes, ulcers and a series of mental health problems.
• If you can’t, at least aim to reduce the amount you drink every day or reserve heavier drinking only for special celebrations. Meanwhile see your doctor for help and advice and join a support group to help break your addiction.
• If you drink moderately convert to consuming just a few glasses of red wine per day. For women one glass and for men two glasses of red wine is beneficial.