PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — New research says seniors are binge drinking more. The number of people over 65 who binge drink is increasing, now at 10%. Too much alcohol can be especially harmful for older adults because it increases the risk of injuries and makes them more likely to develop chronic health problems.
Binge drinking is usually associated with college students, but now research says that one in 10 older adults currently binge drink.
For men, that’s five or more drinks on a given occasion and for women, it’s four or more.
“It looks like there has been an increase in binge drinking among older adults,” New York University School of medicine assistant professor Benjamin Han said.
Researchers say the findings are concerning because as people age, changes in the body make older people much more sensitive to alcohol.
“In addition, adults tend to have more chronic diseases and take more prescribed medications and alcohol can negatively impact existing chronic disease, can also interact with a range of prescribed medications that can be potentially dangerous,” Han said.
It’s recommended that people drink less as they age. Older adults who are health and do not take medications should not have more than seven drinks per week.
“It also depends on if you have certain conditions, it’s probably much safer not to drink at all,” Han said.
Photographer Stephen Sherman says as he gets older, he has cut down on drinking.
“I drink very little, one or two drinks a week if that,” Sherman said. “I’ve recently had some heart issues.”
Researchers say older adults should talk with their doctor about what level of drinking is safe for them.
The research also showed that older people who binge drink are more likely to be male and current users of cannabis or tobacco.
Another interesting finding is that 70% of older people who are hospitalized and up to 50% of nursing home residents have alcohol-related problems in general.