A study conducted by the Universities of Kentucky and Maryland on 619, 69 -92 year olds from Massachusetts in a long-term health monitoring study found that moderate alcohol use in the elderly can increase memory for 78% of seniors. It is thought that the anti-inflammatory properties of alcohol when consumed moderately has been known to protect against dementia, stroke, coronary heart disease and Type II diabetes.
On the down side 22% of elderly who carry the APOE e4 gene are at greater risk for Alzheimer’s Disease and light to moderate levels of alcohol use for this group is associated with lower cognition.
“Moderate drinking for the elderly of both genders is no more than one drink per day, where a drink is defined as 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz of spirits,” Alcohol and the elderly. Dufour MC, Archer L, Gordis E. “Low-dose alcohol stimulates appetite and promotes regular bowel function. In the well-nourished nonalcoholic elderly, the negative impact of alcohol consumption on nutrition is minimal. Alcohol consumption improves mood by increasing feelings of happiness and freedom from care while lessening inhibitions, stress, tension, and depression.”
Red wine is thought to have healthy antioxidants called resveratrol that may prevent heart disease by increasing levels of HDL cholesterol. But you don’t have to drink it to get the benefits. Cooking with any wine, beer or alcohol eliminates the alcohol but retains the antioxidants and the flavor, if you add it briefly to the finish of a dish and cook just long enough to burn off the alcohol content.
Elders should be cautioned against potential drug-alcohol interactions so check with your doctor if you drink even small amounts. Older bodies tends to retain less body mass and metabolize calories more slowly so a little bit of alcohol can have a larger effect on the body than for a younger person. “The human body metabolizes alcohol more slowly as people age, which can increase sensitivity to alcohol, reduce alcohol tolerance, and ultimately place older adults at a greater risk of cognitive impairment and related accidents and injuries i.e., falls and motor vehicle accidents,” noted in the The TEDS Report – SAMHSA
“If you’re a woman and drink alcohol, talk to your doctor about taking supplemental folate to help reduce the risk of breast cancer associated with alcohol use,” warns a report posted on Mayoclinic.com
1- If you drink, do so moderately and follow these guidelines
Moderate drinking means ones drink per day
12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz of spirits
2- If you drink get tested for the APOE e4 gene. Refrain from all drinking if you are a carrier.
3- Do not drink and drive. Be especially careful walking.
4- Cook with alcohol instead of drinking it. Ingest some of the healthful antioxidants while adding flavor to your recipes, eliminating the alcohol from your diet.
5- Check with your health care provider about your risk factors and consumption of alcohol.
MailOnline -Want to stay sharp in old age? Have a drink: Alcohol found to improve memory in most elderly people by Mark Howarth
Clin Geriatr Med. 1992 Feb;8(1):127-41.Alcohol and the elderly.Dufour MC, Archer L, Gordis E.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Rockville, Maryland.
The TEDS Report (Treatment Episode Data Set) SAMHSA Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration