Excessive Alcohol Consumption May Affect Neurocognitive Skills in Elderly — Study

Alcohol consumption can cause severe health issues, ranging from mild headaches to nausea to severe issues such as brain damage, heart problems or cancer. No matter what the age alcohol does not spare anyone. Studies have shown that alcohol inhibits the functioning of the brain’s communication pathway affecting the way it appears or works.

A 2016 study titled, “Older adults with long-term alcohol dependence lose neurocognitive abilities,” by researchers from the University of Florida, suggested that excessive alcohol consumption in the elderly can lead to neurophysiological and cognitive changes that can result in disrupted sleep along with serious neurotoxic effects.

Published in the journal, Alcoholism: Clinical and experimental research, the study highlighted that the negative consequences of heavy alcohol consumption begin to worsen with advanced age.

53 percent of participants had an alcohol dependence history

As part of the study, the researchers evaluated 66 participants, including 35 women and 31 men, from the Brown University Center for AIDS Research. Each participant was required to complete an array of comprehensive neurocognitive tests. The current heavy drinkers (n=21) were segregated from the group, based on the criteria shared by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and a series of structured clinical interviews, and were, then, compared with another group comprising non-drinkers and moderate drinkers (n=45).

The results revealed that approximately 53 percent of the total population had a lifetime history of alcohol dependence (AD). The researchers used several factors such as global cognitive function, attention/executive function, learning, memory, motor function, verbal function and speed of processing in order to group the neurocognitive data.

“These data suggest that while heavy current alcohol consumption is associated with significant impairment in a number of neurocognitive domains, history of alcohol dependence, even in the absence of heavy current alcohol use, is associated with lasting negative consequences for neurocognitive function,” said Adam J. Woods from the University of Florida.

Heavy drinking in older adults linked to poor cognitive functioning

The study demonstrated that that the current heavy drinking in older adults was linked to a decline in global cognitive function, learning, memory and motor function. Further, a lifetime history of AD was found to be associated with poor functioning in the same neurocognitive domains, as well as the attention/executive domain, regardless of age. Although, current AD can be the root cause of impairments in various neurocognitive domains, a chronic addiction to alcohol, especially in case of older adults, is associated with long-term problems in the same.

Curb alcohol dependence for better health

Alcoholism is undeniably a problem, causing harmful effects on the mind and body. Severe alcoholism can lead to loss of life, if not treated at the right time. However, the first step to tackling alcohol addiction is to find a comprehensive treatment program encompassing innovative and evidence-based therapeutic interventions. However, first and the foremost, an alcoholic must accept the fact that he or she has a problem. Although not easy, it is a necessary step for treatment and recovery.

Moderate drinking can take the shape of heavy drinking in no time, paving way for numerous health problems, chronic illnesses, neurological defects and many others. If you know someone who is addicted to alcohol and is in need of alcohol abuse treatment help, contact the 24/7 Alcohol Abuse Help. Call our representatives at our 24/7 alcohol abuse helpline 866–480–6873, and our representatives will connect you with to the best alcohol abuse treatment centers in your vicinity.