Drinking alcohol in excess during mid-life can greatly increase the risk of developing symptoms of dementia later in life, according to new research. On the other hand, reducing alcohol intake to recommended guidelines or lower during mid-life can decrease the risk of dementia, scientists say.
More than a tenth of adults age 65 and older currently binge drink, putting them at risk for a range of health problems, according to a study which also found that certain factors — including using cannabis and being male — are associated with an increase in binge drinking.
Alcohol use disorders are the most important preventable risk factors for the onset of all types of dementia, especially early-onset dementia. This according to a nationwide observational study, published in The Lancet Public Health journal, of over one million adults diagnosed with dementia in France.
Blood alcohol levels below the current legal limit for driving have a significant negative effect on a person's dexterity. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Research Notes found that just two single vodka and orange drinks were enough to make senior volunteers struggle at an obstacle avoidance test while walking.
Social factors have consistently been implicated as a cause of vulnerability to alcohol use and abuse. The reverse is also true, in that individuals who engage in excessive drinking may alter their social context. New research on drinking among older adults has found that older adults who have more money, engage in more social activities, and whose friends approve more of drinking are more likely to engage in excessive or high-risk drinking.