In a new study, researchers found that social drinking has a notable impact on older people’s daily activities such as the ability to operate a car but may improve memory performance.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Florida.
It is estimated that about 20% of the US population will be 65 or older by 2030.
Nearly half of Americans older than 65 years of age self-report as current drinkers. Most do not develop alcohol use disorders.
But it has been unclear if growing older makes people more vulnerable to alcohol’s effects.
In the new study, the team examined social drinking, comparable to a glass or two of wine with dinner, among older adults.
They compared healthy, current drinkers who are either 25 to 35 or 55 to 70 years of age.
They found on a simple memory task, the younger group showed no alcohol effects.
However, the older group that received a low dose of alcohol actually performed better than the non-alcohol control group.
When they examined performance on a driving simulator, younger adults were relatively unaffected by alcohol, while older adults showed greater variability in steering and speed control with increased alcohol drinking.
The team says that the older-adult group was comprised of particularly healthy individuals.
Future work needs to better understand what underlying neurobehavioral processes are compromised in order to understand the moderate drinking effects, drinking and cognitive decline, and necessary interventions.
The lead author of the study is Sara Jo Nixon, professor and director of the Center for Addiction Research &Education.
The study was presented at the 42nd annual scientific meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) in Minneapolis.
Copyright © 2019 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.