Some seniors drink alcohol to excess, report finds

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One out of every 10 Medicare beneficiaries over age 65 may drink unhealthy amounts of alcohol. 

That's according to new research from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Head researcher Dr. Elizabeth L. Merrick says that excessive alcohol consumption in the elderly can have serious side effects, including increased risk of falls, exacerbation of some medical problems and possible adverse reactions to medication. Researchers report their findings in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the American Geriatrics Society recommend that seniors aged 65 and over have no more than seven drinks a week and not more than three drinks in a given day. Merrick found that nearly 10% of seniors drink their way past that benchmark, with older men out drinking women four to one. Merrick and colleagues assessed 12, 413 Medicare beneficiaries for alcohol consumption through a 2003 Medicare survey.

These findings come as a British research team found that those who imbibe even moderate amounts of alcohol experienced increased blood-pressure woes. The British report was published March 4 in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine.