Binge drinking, memory loss, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s

By David Joel Miller.

Binge drinking your way to Memory loss, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s.

Binge Drinking

Binge Drinking.
Photo courtesy of Flickr (stopalcoholdeaths)

Once you get past age sixty-five it doesn’t take much in the way of binge drinking to impair your cognitive abilities. A recent study by Dr. Lang of the University of Exeter reports that the threshold for memory loss as a result of binge drinking is a lot lower in senior citizens than previously thought.

Seniors who binge drank TWO times per MONTH were 250% more likely to have memory loss and cognitive decline than those who did not binge drink.

The study defined binge drinking in seniors as four or more drinks on one drinking occasion. Given what other studies have found about the declining tolerance of seniors for alcohol, that four drink figure sounds awfully high. See a previous post on binge drinking for more on the effects of substances on the elderly.

This study does not draw a conclusion about any connection between binge drinking and either dementia or Alzheimer’s. But the conclusion that even occasional episodes of four drinks by seniors can impair the memory makes me question the safety of these promotions trying to get seniors to drink a little for their heart.

This study was presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. A second study presented at the same conference examined the effects of “moderate” drinking on older women. In this one over 1,300 women age 65 and up were studied for twenty years. The result?

Moderate alcohol consumption did not protect memory in older women.

We also suspect that binge drinking coupled with prescription medications increases the risk of blackouts in Seniors.

The drinking by seniors conclusion?

Alcohol consumption by seniors does not protect the memory and even occasional binge drinking, as few as four drinks in one day, maybe less, can result in memory loss for those in the senior community.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books


5 thoughts on “Binge drinking, memory loss, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s

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