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Why a Longer Happy Hour in Retirement is Not A Good Thing

Why a Longer Happy Hour in Retirement is Not A Good Thing

By Susan Williams

Alcohol. When something good happens we may drink to celebrate. When something bad happens we may drink to drown our sorrows.

And for many baby boomers, drinking alcohol has been considered a normal part of their lives for a very long time.

But it seems that baby boomers are hitting the bottle harder than ever before and this is creating some significant risks.

From baby boomers liberal acceptance of drinking, to feelings of loneliness or boredom, whatever the reasons it’s becoming a very dangerous situation.

And this is a global problem.

A recent article published in The Guardian cited some research that is serving as a wake up call to the severity of the situation in the UK. They stated;

“Among men aged 70-74 the alcohol-specific death rate rose by 50% from 2001, while among women aged 60 to 64 it increased by 35%. The largest jumps – 55% for men and 40% for women – were in the 80-84 age group, although the absolute rates were lower.”

Want some more scary statistics?

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) stated;

  • There are 2.5 million older adults with an alcohol or drug problem.
  • Six to eleven percent of elderly hospital admissions are a result of alcohol or drug problems — 14 percent of elderly emergency room admissions, and 20 percent of elderly psychiatric hospital admissions.
  • Widowers over the age of 75 have the highest rate of alcoholism in the U.S.
  • Nearly 50 percent of nursing home residents have alcohol related problems.
  • Older adults are hospitalized as often for alcoholic related problems as for heart attacks.

But why is drinking when your older so much worse then when you’re younger?

There are a number of reasons:

Increased Sensitivity to Alcohol

Let’s face it – our bodies are not as young as they used to be and don’t react and respond the same way. So we have to expect that how we metabolize and tolerate different foods and drinks has also changed.

Alcohol is no exception.

We may now feel the affects of alcohol much quicker which may then leave us at risk for increased falls, slips and other increased injuries.

Alcohol and Medications Just Don’t Mix

An estimated 74% of seniors are taking one medication and approximately 15% of seniors are taking 5 or more medications. Add this to the fact that alcohol can also interact negatively with over the counter and natural health products such as aspirin, cough syrups and many other products.

The mixing of alcohol and medications can be extremely risky and dangerous – and potentially even deadly.

Increased Health Risks

According to the National Institute on Aging, they reported that drinking alcohol over a long period of time can potentially lead to the following problems;

  • “Lead to some kinds of cancer, liver damage, immune system disorders, and brain damage
  • Worsen some health conditions like osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, ulcers, memory loss and mood disorders
  • Make some medical problems hard for doctors to find and treat—for example, alcohol causes changes in the heart and blood vessels. These changes can dull pain that might be a warning sign of a heart attack.
  • Cause some older people to be forgetful and confused—these symptoms could be mistaken for signs of Alzheimer’s disease.”

So maybe rather than lifting a glass when we want to celebrate or escape we could come up with some new and healthier traditions.

Maybe we could try switching out “one for the road” for an actual “walk down the road“. Or how about we replace “happy hour” with “healthy hour“?

Alcohol and aging… another thing to monitor and watch to help you age well.

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.
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