What’s the Recommended Daily Allowance for Alcohol?

Elderly alcohol consumption controversy

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Researchers found that older people might be drinking more than they should in the privacy of their own homes.  However, other researchers say just the opposite.

Older people are being advised to drink less than the recommended amount (2-3 units per day) as they age, says a report from The Royal College of Psychiatrists. But, the International forum on Alcohol Research has found that moderate drinking (3-4 units per day) can help older people lower their risks for certain diseases.

"Seniors benefit from drinking alcohol, as long as they don’t abuse it."

The Royal College of Psychiatrists of London reported that older people are drinking too much for their own good. The report suggests that the older you get, the less alcohol your body can handle.

Alcohol is used more to cope with life-changing situations like retirement, loneliness or depression as folks get older, say experts from the Royal College of Psychiatrists. These researchers caution that drinking too much has led to a growing problem of substance abuse, which health professionals often miss or ignore in older people.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists suggest that older people should drink no more than a small glass of wine or half a pint of beer a day and that healthcare professionals should be on the lookout for substance abuse in their older patients.

The International Forum on Alcohol Research disagrees with this report. Their researchers say moderate amounts of alcohol (two glasses of wine or a pint of beer daily) would benefit older people.

They found that moderate consumption can reduce the risk for coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, diabetes, dementia and osteoporosis, while prolonging life.

The forum reviewers say it's not advisable to tell responsible moderate drinkers to completely stop drinking or reduce their alcohol intake because it does provide benefits – especially in cardiovascular disease.

In either case, both sides of the story can agree that health professionals should start screening older people regularly because substance abuse can lead to a whole host of other problems.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 28, 2011
Last Updated:
June 29, 2011