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Beyond the Binge: Dangers of Senior Drinking

Beyond the Binge: Dangers of Senior Drinking

Binge-drinking isn’t just a problem for college kids—here’s why it’s especially dangerous for seniors.

Babe Ruth was known as the “Sultan of Swat” for his outstanding play on the baseball field. In 1924, he led the league with a 0.378 batting average and 46 home runs. But his off field-drinking turned him into the Baron of Bingeing—and in 1925 it caused him to miss part of spring training as well as 56 games.

Research finds binge-drinking—downing five or more drinks at a time (guys) or four or more (gals)—isn’t confined to superstars. A whopping 10 percent of Americans, age 65 and higher, are binging. The research, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, looked at the habits of 10,927 seniors and discovered that marathon drinking sessions are a growing problem. What’s more, bingers are frequently combining alcohol with cannabis.

Risks associated with senior binge-drinking
When older folks take a hit of alcohol (plus pot) they’re more likely to fall and break bones. In fact, binge-drinking elders end up in the ER more often than non-binging peers. Additionally, the research found the most common chronic diseases among older binge drinkers were hypertension (41.4 percent), cardiovascular disease (23.1 percent) and diabetes (17.7 percent)—and alcohol can make it hard to manage those conditions. Plus, when alcohol mixes with meds for those disorders—yikes!

So, if you or someone you know are binge drinking, ask yourself why. Is it to overcome social anxiety? Because of alcohol dependence? To manage chronic pain? Regardless of the reason, it’s wise to find ways to cut back on drinking. Or look for support groups that can help you find healthier solutions and “swat” that problem out of your park.

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