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Study Examines Impact of Heavy Drinking on Elderly

Posted in Alcohol Abuse

The amount of alcohol consumed on a consistent basis can impact an individual’s reaction to it. According to a Science Daily release, a recent study of drinking among the elderly in Brazil has identified that heavy alcohol use is associated with more memory and cognitive problems than mild-to-moderate alcohol use – especially among female drinkers.

“There is a scarcity of information about alcohol use and the elderly,” said Marcos Antonio Lopes, corresponding author for the study and currently a visiting lecturer at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, “which needs to be resolved in order to construct a real diagnosis and promote proper health care for this population.”

Jerson Laks, associate professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro and a researcher with the Brazilian National Committee for Research, agrees with Lopes saying. “Alcohol use is frequently an exclusion criterion for any study of cognition and dementia in the elderly, as well as in studies aimed at depression. Therefore, by simply excluding alcohol use and abuse, most studies cannot reveal the interaction between drinking behaviors and cognition in this age range.”

Laks went on to note that this current study is important as it did not have any expectations that the elderly would drink less than younger subjects. At the same time, the survey asked many difficult questions in order to uncover facts about drinking among the elderly in Brazil.

According to Lopes, heavy alcohol use among the elderly was found to be 8.2 percent and it affected men mostly from low socioeconomic levels. The effects of heavy alcohol use on memory and other cognitive functions were more evident in women.

“This study shows that older people keep drinking along the life span,” said Laks. “Taking into consideration that drinking may lead to falls and to cognitive impairment when heavy use is the case, this study creates important awareness about this issue.”