When considering the risks of excessive drinking at any age, why should more attention be focused on the older population (aged 65 and above)? According to an article in the Yorkshire Post, more and more research has been conducted that shows that adults over the age of 65 are binge drinking at greater rates. One study in particular explored the reasons why so many people in that age group continue to drink to unhealthy levels, and to reveal their attitudes to alcohol. The article goes on to state that:” many older people may not recognize they are heavy drinkers if they do not see themselves as dependent and therefore having a problem.” The author of this article goes on to state that, in the context of this study, the attitudes towards drinking was very “blase” because these individuals did not witness the effects of consumption. Read more here.
Another study, recounted in The Spirits Business by Amy Hopkins, also looked at why many people over the age of 65 consumed ‘hazardous’ levels of alcohol, while also exploring the group’s attitudes towards drinking. The researchers found that many of the participants did not even realize that they were drinking excessively. Mirroring the attitudes expressed in the previous article, Dr. Graeme Wilson stated that: “Many older people are drinking to a level that is having a long-term impact on their health, even if the damage they are doing is not always immediately apparent.”
Statistics in England show that 28% of men over 65 years and 14% of women over 65 now drink alcohol more than five times per week. Wow.
But why is this happening? Some attention can be placed on the several stressors of the older population, which include: chronic pain, loneliness and bereavement; also the increased need for prescription drugs causes unhealthy interactions with the alcohol that they consume, which in itself, can place individuals at greater risk for injury, such as falls.
Because of these risks, greater attention needs to be placed on the interventions offered to this population. It is important to stress the need for lower recommended drinking limits for adults, aged 65+, but what more can be done? Dr. Katie Haighton suggests that longer in-home support be given to these individuals, with tailored information on the risks from alcohol in later life. Read more about other ideas here
What is your opinion?