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Are Older People Drinking Too Much?

Posted in General Health 08 Sep, 2015

When we look back to our drinking and partying days the amount of alcohol we consumed was horrific. 'Those were the days!' We dreamily utter, hastily forgetting the time we lost our knickers at the Student Union and vomited down the 7th floor stairwell. We sigh and pour another glass of Shiraz now that we're grown-ups - but did you ever think about how much you drink now?

Chances are it's more than you did back in the day, and more than current clubbers, ravers and the disrespectful youth of today are drinking.

Who Drinks the Most?

Older people are drinking a fair amount of alcohol. Those aged over 65 are chugging it back in gallons according to a Kings College London study. Anonymous data from the Lambeth inner city area was collated, and 27,991 people over 65 were analysed using 2013's data. It took into account factors such as age, ethnicity and socio-economic status.

What Were The Results?

From the total amount surveyed, a third of over 65s drank alcohol - that's 9248. Out of these drinkers 7%, that's 1980 individuals, drank above safe limits. These drinkers reported consuming 49 units a week - that's the equivalent of 3 and half pints each day.

Those at the younger end of the 65 scale, who were male and of Irish ethnicity were most likely to drink too much. African, Caribbean and Asian ethnicities were less likely. Interestingly the richer folk were more likely to drink.

What Does This Mean?

It appears the baby boomers are big drinkers. Instead of worrying about our teenagers, perhaps we should be worrying about our parents.

If this pattern is replicated across the UK, then we have a large population of over 65s who are drinking too much for their health. In reality the number could be far higher. We do tend to lie to our GP about our naughty habits - smoking, drinking, and risky sex. The numbers used in this study were self-reported.

This over consumption can lead to liver cirrhosis and a risk of cancer. Older folk are more sensitive to alcohol because the body doesn't deal with it as effectively as it once did - I think we can all agree on that.

Drinking alcohol contributes to falls. In older people it can lead to broken bones and serious head injuries, rather than slipping in your own vomit on the dance floor and getting straight back up for another chorus of 'Jump Around.'

What Can We Do About It

As always information is key.

When presented with these results my father, who is 60 and drinks too much sherry and Guinness, couldn't care less. "I'm too old to worry about all that ****" is how he succinctly put it.

Older people need to have information about the dangers of excessive drinking, the effect on their health and lifespan, and what safe limits are - that's my uneducated guess at why they drink so much.

A big push toward educating the over 65s is what's needed, alongside the compulsory removal of any 80s style bars located in their living rooms.

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