Alcohol and the Elderly
The elderly are more prone to falls due to weaker muscles. Alcohol impairs balance and judgement making it more likely for a fall to happen. Decreases in bone strength and composure (Osteoporosis) also add to the risk of falls and hip fractures. Alcohol contributes to 60% of falls.
ER visit records show that older alcoholics see more stomach and intestinal diseases, as well as internal bleeding. Half of elderly patients who have cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) die within a year of diagnosis. Alcoholics in general are also immunosuppresed, meaning their bodies have a much harder time fighting off infections, and this is increased in elderly alcoholics.
Heavy drinking increases the risk of stroke. Other problems occurring with chronic alcohol use include sleep disturbances and increased rates of mental illness (most commonly depression). There is also a risk of interactions with other medication the person may be taking, which can lead to confusion and loss of balance, among other side effects.