Alcohol's Impact on Healthy Aging
Posted on 08/23/2023
Socializing is an important part of living a fulfilling life and maintaining our optimal health. Decompression from a challenging day is also vital for our mental and physical health. For some of us, alcohol may be a part of both celebratory and relaxation practices. At what point does the occasional or daily alcoholic beverage begin to negatively impact our health and well-being? 

We may have heard mixed messages varying from recommending no alcohol consumption to promoting a daily glass of wine as a health benefit. The conclusion drawn from weighing the risks and benefits of consuming alcoholic beverages varies for each individual. 

Here are a few points to consider when making choices regarding drinking alcohol: 
Discuss the natural aging process and medications with a physician: Many of us may not be aware that as we age, our bodies may process alcohol differently than in the past. An amount that was once safe for us to drink could now cause ill effects or increase the risk of falls, injury, accidents, or loss of control. Consuming alcohol may be unsafe while taking some medications or could reduce our needed medication's efficacy. How much and how often a safe amount of alcohol to drink can vary from person to person and changes over time. Discussing our unique situation openly with a physician is important to maintaining optimal health. 

Meet Nutritional Requirements and Stay Well Hydrated

Enjoying a stage in life that may allow more time for recreation could place us in a position where we are drinking more than we have in the past. We may find our consumption is primarily because we have the time, budget, and opportunity. Prioritizing when and being deliberate about how much alcohol is consumed can reduce the risk of negatively impacting health. Adding a beverage or snack with high nutritional value or serving iced sparkling water with lemon or cucumber may be a refreshing and hydrating alternative. 

Being proactive in meeting our nutritional needs can improve how we feel not only in the moment but also in the future. Alcohol lacks nutritional value and can add empty calories, causing weight gain or replacing valuable, needed nutrition. Incorporating healthy alternatives to alcoholic beverages can be best for ourselves and others in our company. Offering an appealing non-alcoholic choice enables those who do not consume to feel comfortable and included without being put on the spot to request an alternative or go without. 

Seek Support
Enduring a negative experience or health condition may cause an increase in consumption. Have we suffered a loss, dealing with social anxiety, or experiencing loneliness? Grief, illness, or chronic pain may have put us in a difficult place in life, and alcohol is sometimes used to cope with these challenges. Talking openly with a trusted individual, physician, or mental health professional or attending a support group is often an important step toward a brighter, healthier future.  

Remember you are not alone. If you or someone you love needs help, reach out to SAMHSA's (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) National Helpline 1-800 662-help (4357). You can also dial 988 for the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

Rest for Optimal Health
While alcohol may initially cause drowsiness, sleep becomes interrupted and can be of poor quality as the night goes on. Substituting a hydrating beverage for a drink containing alcohol is better for a good night's rest and activity during the day.   

Safe Storage

Remembering to keep alcohol stored secure and out of reach of youth or vulnerable adults, whether they reside in our home or are occasional visitors, can help prevent an unfortunate accident. 

Connecting with others, relaxing, and enjoying precious moments are of great value at any age. We all experience changes that are a natural part of life's progression. Being aware of how our alcohol consumption affects our health and well-being is an important step toward healthy aging.