Alcohol consumption patterns and cognitive impairment in older women

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2014 Dec;22(12):1663-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2014.04.006. Epub 2014 Apr 26.


Objective: Few studies have investigated changes in alcohol consumption and risk of cognitive impairment among oldest old adults.

Methods: In a prospective study of 1309 women ≥65 years old, alcohol use was assessed at repeated visits and used to estimate average change in alcohol consumption over 16 years. Clinically significant cognitive impairment (mild cognitive impairment and dementia) was assessed at year 20.

Results: Compared with the reference group (slight decrease in alcohol consumption by 0-0.5 drinks/week, 60.4%), increasing consumption over time (>0 drinks/week) was not associated with risk of cognitive impairment (5.0%, odds ratio [OR]: 1.00, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.54-1.85). Decreasing consumption by >0.5 drinks/week was associated with increased risk (34.5%, OR: 1.34, 95% CI: 1.05-1.70). Adjustment for age, education, diabetes, smoking, BMI, and physical activity attenuated the magnitude of the effect slightly and resulted in borderline statistical significance.

Conclusion: Women in their ninth and tenth decade of life who decrease alcohol use may be at risk of cognitive impairment.

Keywords: Cognitive impairment; alcohol; dementia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / epidemiology*
  • Dementia / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk