Aging adults who have diabetes need to be especially careful when consuming alcohol. Though drinking in moderation is usually fine, doing so in excess can have serious consequences for someone with this condition. If your elderly loved one is diabetic, Bridgewater elderly care experts recommend learning more about the effects alcohol can have on his or her health.
Age Changes the Way the Body Absorbs Alcohol
When seniors consume alcohol, their bodies will break it down at a slower rate than it did when they were younger. This is mainly problematic because alcohol contains high levels of carbohydrates. When carbs enter the body, it converts them into sugar. This means the alcohol stays longer in a senior’s bloodstream, drinking tolerance decreases, and blood sugar levels can decrease or increase rapidly.
Alcohol Directly Affects Blood Sugar Levels
Senior diabetics need to keep their sugar levels under control and to use insulin to stabilize them. Alcohol can cause blood sugar to increase or decrease, and it can alter the effects of necessary medications. Hyperglycemia, also known as high blood sugar, can occur when sugary alcoholic drinks are consumed. Alcohol can also cause hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. This occurs when alcohol enters the body and the liver becomes preoccupied with removing it from the bloodstream. Since the liver is busy removing the alcohol, it no longer releases stored glucose.
The Combination of Alcohol and Diabetes Impacts Brain Health
Diabetes affects blood sugar, and the brain depends on controlled levels of glucose to keep it functioning properly. Memory issues have been associated with diabetes due to both high and low blood sugar levels. When a diabetic senior who is experiencing memory loss consumes alcohol, the symptoms of memory loss can increase. Such symptoms include:
- Forgetting to take a medication or taking more than the prescribed amount
- Getting lost in a familiar place
- Becoming injured and not properly attending to a wound
- Forgetting the names of friends and family members
The Additional Health Risks of Drinking with Diabetes
Diabetic seniors who consume alcohol are also at a higher risk for many other complications, including:
- Flushed complexion
- Nerve damage
- Kidney damage
- Loss of balance
If your loved one needs help managing diabetes, turn to Home Care Assistance. We offer live-in and hourly care in Bridgewater, and our caregivers can help your loved one with a wide variety of daily tasks, including medication reminders, transportation to and from medical appointments, exercise and much more. To learn more and to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation, call one of our Care Managers at 908.450.9400 today.