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Why does drinking have higher risks for older adults?

While most people understand the risks of driving while under the influence of alcohol, you may not realize the impact alcohol has on you before picking up your keys. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, your body handles alcohol differently as you age.

Understanding how alcohol affects your body can help you make smarter choices before getting behind the wheel.

Aging and alcohol

Drinking affects a person’s judgment, reaction time and coordination. As you age, a small amount of alcohol may affect you, compared to how alcohol affected you in the past. Many older adults feel symptoms of drunkenness without increasing their alcohol intake.

If you do not realize the impact smaller amounts of alcohol have on you as you age, you may not notice becoming more prone to accidents. Additionally, you become more prone to injuries due to accidents as you age. Your risk of an accident begins to increase after you turn 55.

Health conditions and medications

Some medications and health conditions react negatively with alcohol. For example, if you take cold or allergy medicine, even a small amount of alcohol may make you feel drowsy or uncoordinated. Other medication may make your alcohol level increase.

If you take medication every day, you may not think about it while drinking. However, the medicine may exacerbate the effects of alcohol and lead to poor decision-making. Blood-thinners can lead to bleeding and worse injuries during an accident.

If you plan to drive, use machinery or perform any activity that requires skill and coordination, even a small amount of alcohol may hinder you.