Although alcohol abuse is most often regarded as a problem affecting young people, a large federally funded study has now found that nearly one in 10 Americans older than 65 drinks too much.
Researchers led by Elizabeth Merrick, a senior scientist at Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management, used data from a 2003 survey of more than 12,000 Medicare recipients to determine the prevalence of unhealthy drinking among the elderly.
Merrick's team found that 9 percent of those older than 65 engaged in unhealthy drinking, consuming four or more drinks in a single day or more than 30 per month. Overall, two-thirds of those surveyed said they did not drink at all. The recommended limit for the elderly is lower than for younger people, researchers note, because those older than 65 metabolize alcohol differently and may be more sensitive to its effects, especially if they are taking certain medications.
Health officials say that consuming more than seven drinks per week or more than three during one day raises the risk of medical problems.
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