Most people drink less as they grow older. However, some maintain heavy drinking patterns throughout life, and some develop problems with alcohol for the first time during their later years. The many challenges that can arise at this stage of life — reduced income, failing health, loneliness, and the loss of friends and loved ones — may cause some people to drink to escape their feelings.

Several factors combine to make drinking — even at normal levels — an increasingly risky behavior as you age. Your ability to metabolize alcohol declines. After drinking the same amount of alcohol, older people have higher blood alcohol concentrations than younger people because of such changes as a lower volume of total body water and slower rates of elimination of alcohol from the body. That means the beer or two you could drink without consequence in your 30s or 40s has more impact in your 60s or 70s.

 

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