A study suggests that more than 18% of Indian older adults consume alcohol. Drinking alcohol has become synonymous with celebrations and enjoyment. The reasons given for taking alcohol are many: happiness, sadness or even fatigue. However, alcoholics have to face several difficulties including physical, mental, financial and social problems. Some people even rationalize drinking if they consume alcohol in limited quantities.
Alcohol, however, in any quantity is not good for health.
Alcohol majorly affects the liver. But other organs of the body are also affected, the brain is one of them. Alcohol contains some quantities of ethanol that adversely affect the brain and the nervous system.
Here are some ways in which alcohol affects the mental health of the elderly:
- Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome: Alcoholism or use of alcohol over a long period of time is the main reason the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. It is caused by a lack of vitamin B1 or thiamine due to over-consumption of alcohol.
- Dementia: Alcohol affects the entire nervous system. Chronic use of alcohol causes memory loss and gradually leads to dementia.
- Loss of motor skills: As the nervous system is affected by the chronic use of alcohol, an alcoholic loses control of his motor skills. Loss of motor skills is also a natural part of aging, so alcohol combined with aging can cause huge trauma.
- Hypertension: Consuming alcohol stimulates the production of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone or the “fight-or-flight” hormone. Prolonged high levels of cortisol in the body can cause a number of issues like high blood pressure and high sugar.
- Stroke: Prolonged consumption of alcohol can lead to a stroke of the brain. This leads to paralysis. If immediate medical intervention is not taken, it can lead to lifelong disability of the older adult.
Also Read: Myths and Facts about Alzheimer’s Disease
Hence, monitoring your alcohol consumption levels and reducing it actively will help you live a happy and healthy life even in old age.
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