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The Dangers of Drinking Alcohol for Seniors with Diabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are several complications that can result from seniors mixing alcohol and diabetes. However, your elderly loved one can avoid these complications by skipping alcohol altogether or limiting his or her intake to no more than one drink a day. The staff at Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of senior care in Summit, has put together a list of some of the risks senior diabetics face when drinking too much alcohol.

Hypoglycemia

When blood sugar drops, the liver helps raise it again by releasing glucose. After alcohol has been consumed, the liver is too busy processing the alcohol to release glucose when needed, potentially causing dangerously low blood sugar. The symptoms of intoxication and low blood sugar are similar, making it difficult for hypoglycemic diabetics to get the proper medical attention if they are presumed intoxicated instead.

Hyperglycemia

While larger amounts of alcohol can lower blood sugar, even moderate amounts can raise it, which is just as dangerous. Alcohol contains carbohydrates, which are turned into sugar in the body and increase blood glucose. This is especially true of beers and sweet wines.

Lowered Inhibitions

Drinking alcohol reduces a person’s inhibition, and this includes seniors. As a result, alcohol consumption may lead to poor nutritional choices and make it more difficult to control blood sugar with diet.

Appetite Stimulation

In some seniors, alcohol stimulates the appetite. Unfortunately, this can lead to overeating. Since portion control is a big part of maintaining blood sugar levels, eating too much can cause blood sugar spikes. The problem of overeating is compounded when lowered inhibitions contribute to poor food choices, leading to eating too much of the wrong things.

Other Concerns

Alcohol consumption has been linked to heart disease, which typically goes hand in hand with diabetes, particularly in seniors. Drinking can also exacerbate other health problems that affect diabetes indirectly. It is important for diabetic seniors to follow their doctors’ instructions on alcohol consumption closely and carefully.

Even if your loved one doesn’t drink alcohol, diabetes can be difficult to manage. However, a professional caregiver from Home Care Assistance can help manage the condition while ensuring greater safety and comfort for your loved one. We offer hourly and live-in care in Summit, and we also offer comprehensive care for seniors with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. For more information on how our in-home care services can promote your loved one’s quality of life, call one of our qualified Care Managers at 908.450.9400 to schedule a complimentary consultation.