Newcastle University academics have called for changes to be made to the recommended safe levels of drinking for over 65s and also special alcohol advice to be made available for older people.
The call comes as the team from Newcastle and Sunderland Universities publish the paper ‘A Qualitative Study of Alcohol, Health and Identities among UK Adults in Later Life’. The research supported by a grant from the charity Age UK looks at the reasons why many older people continue to drink to levels hazardous or harmful to their health.
The report suggests that many older people may not recognise that they are heavy drinkers, especially if they don’t see themselves as dependent and therefore having a problem. Heavy drinking in this age group is strongly linked with depression and anxiety and longer term health problems. Metabolism is slower in later life, and older people are very likely to take prescribed medicines that can interact with alcohol. For these reasons heavy drinking can have a bigger impact on the lives of older people than the younger generation.
Dr Katie Haighton of Newcastle University said: “Alcohol interventions are not working for older people for many reasons. A lot of those we interviewed said the messages around alcohol were very confusing. There is a need to develop new approaches to target the older population. We also think the Government really needs to start looking at lowering the recommended limit for alcohol consumption in those over 65.”