Alcohol And Seniors


Alcohol and Mobility

Long term alcohol consumption affects the nerves in a senior's body. It can lead to peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy worsens after heavy bouts of alcohol intake and malnutrition (1).

Alcohol can have a toxic effects on muscles causing them to atrophy. (2) Alcohol itself can contribute to nerve damage and can compound an individual's existing neuropathy symptoms.(3) As few as four drinks per week can worsen the condition. In addition, alcohol can increase a senior's risk of fall or other injury, especially for seniors who already have lost some sensation in their legs and feet.

Alcohol can:

- further decrease a senior's sensory abilities,

- decrease a senior's sense of balance,

- impair a senior's judgment.

Mobility impairments can easily affect every part of a senior’s life. It affects whether a senior is able to able to get adequate nutrition- many seniors have to make fewer trips and only carry small quantities of food if their ability to walk is impaired.

Mobility affects not only whether the senior can get to an outpatient clinic or support group, but also many other things. It affects being able to get medical care. It’s harder to maintain relationships with family and friends. Attending social and cultural events becomes an increasing challenge.

Access to alcohol, in contrast, isn’t that difficult. There are plenty of enterprising souls who (for a fee) will deliver it to your door. And they know where seniors live.



  1. Hawley, R.J., Kurtzke, J. F., Armbrustmacher, V. M. et al (1982). The course of alcoholic- nutritional peripheral neuroapthy" Acta Neurologica Scandinavica 66 (5) 582-9.
  2. Mills, K. R. Ward, K., Martin, F. & Peters, T. J. (1986). "Peripheral neuropathy and myopathy in chronic alcoholism.. Alcohol and Alcoholism 21 (4) 357-362.
  3. Better Health & Medical Network,,1349,164-457-1044,00.html  (This site is no longer active)



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