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How Much Alcohol Consumption Is Too Much?

Row of alcoholic drinks

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that alcohol consumption for people over age 65 should be no more than seven drinks a week and no more than three drinks on any one day. If you have a health problem or are taking certain medicines you may need to drink less, or not at all. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you.

Alcohol consumption as you age

As you get older, you may feel the effects of alcohol and be unable to drink as much. Alcohol is processed by the body more slowly in older adults, so blood alcohol levels are higher for a longer amount of time after drinking. This can lead to an increased danger of accidents, falls, and injuries, hours after drinking alcohol.

What's considered a drink? 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

When is your alcohol consumption a problem?

Consider getting help if you or a loved one:

  • Hides or lies about drinking
  • Consumes more than seven drinks a week or more than three drinks in one day
  • Gets hurt or harms others when drinking

Take a free anonymous online screening

Concerned about your drinking or want to know if you should change your lifestyle? Take a free anonymous screening online. After answering a few questions, you’ll get explanations about your behavior and information about next steps.

Take the screening now.

For older adults, too much alcohol comes with consequences…

Drinking too much alcohol over a long time can lead to a number of serious health problems, such as:

  • Some types of cancer, such as mouth and throat, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast
  • Liver damage
  • Immune system disorders
  • Brain damage

The list goes on. Excessive alcohol consumption can also worsen health conditions like osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and ulcers. Alcohol abuse can 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.

How to drink responsibly

Be aware of how your body changes as you age. Be alert to these changes and adjust how much alcohol you can safely drink. There are many ways to increase your awareness of alcohol, cut back, or stop drinking:

  • Keep track of the number of drinks you have each day.
  • Decide how many days a week you want to drink. Plan some days that are free of alcohol.
  • Count how many ounces of alcohol you are consuming in each drink.
  • Pace yourself; don’t have more than one alcoholic drink in an hour.
  • Make sure to eat and drink water when drinking alcohol.
  • If you want to quit drinking, ask for support from your family and advice from your health care provider.

Alcohol should be enjoyed in moderation. If you see any red flags for you or a loved one, please consider seeking help from your health care provider to conduct an alcohol screening and initiate intervention.

Let us help you with happy aging

Here at Tufts Health Plan, we’re dedicated to improving the health and wellness of our 60+ community.

Make sure you don’t miss another article with tips and tricks for happy aging, plus vital health information that you’ll need to ensure that you’re up to date with relevant health care announcements. Click here or below to keep your health at your fingertips.

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