According to findings published in the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs older adults may not be handling their alcohol as well as they think. According to the study, adults ages 50 to 75 that possessed the same moderate breath alcohol level as their younger counterparts were more likely to have increased psychomotor impairment and were also more likely to misjudge how impaired they were. The researchers believe that alcohol may compound slight age-related cognitive decline. Researchers commenting on the study said, “This potential disconnection between self-reported and behavioral effects of alcohol may have significant implications for public health and safety, particularly among active, older social drinkers,” The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that discusses the study more:
To see the effect of age on intoxication at the 40 mg/100 ml-breath alcohol level typical of social drinking, the researchers recruited 42 adults ages 50 to 74, along with 26 adults ages 25 to 35. All drank in moderation at least once a month.
They were randomized to chug down either a drink of lime soda mixed with one part, 100% medical-grade alcohol, or a drink of straight lime soda with a negligible amount of alcohol floating on the surface to maintain blinding.
With blood alcohol levels still on the rise at 25 minutes after administration, participants were tested for psychomotor impairment using Trail Making Tests A and B. These require subjects to connect circles labeled with letters and/or number, in order. The tests evaluate visual-motor coordination, planning, and ability to move from one thought to the next.
A booster drink at 30 minutes targeted to keep peak breath alcohol concentration at about 40 mg/100 ml for all participants was followed by repeat psychomotor testing at 75 minutes.
Despite a similar rate of rise in breath alcohol concentration between age groups, older participants thought they were less impaired than younger adults did.(P<0.001).