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  1. ITV Report

Growing number of over-65s drinking to an 'unsafe' level, health experts warn

A fifth of over-65s are binge drinking to an "unsafe" level, posing real risks to their long-term health, experts have warned.

A fifth of over-65s are binge drinking to an 'unsafe' level, experts warn Credit: PA

Researchers analysed the health records of 28,000 people living in Lambeth in London, and found that men, wealthy people and the better-educated were most at risk.

The study was carried out by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King's College London.

Despite men making up just 46 per cent of the study group, they made up 60 per cent of the drinkers and 65 per cent of the unsafe drinkers - defined as consuming more than 21 units a week for men and 14 for women.

The research, published in BMJ Open, also found that white or Irish people were more likely to drink alcohol, while those of Caribbean, African or Asian heritage were less likely to drink.

Researchers analysed the health records of 28,000 people living in Lambeth in London Credit: PA

The average alcohol intake for over-65s was six units per week - but the top five per cent of drinkers reported consuming more than 49 units a week among the men, and 23 units a week for the women.

Lead author of the report, Dr Tony Rao, said the so-called 'Baby Boomer' generation were contributing to a growing number of older people drinking to excess.

As the Baby Boomer generation become seniors, they represent an ever increasing population of older people drinking at levels that pose a risk to their health.

This study shows the need for greater awareness of the potential for alcohol related harm in older people, particularly those of higher socio-economic status, who may suffer the consequences of ill health from alcohol at an earlier age than those in previous generations.

– Dr Tony Rao, researcher

Because the findings relied on patients giving accurate information on their drinking habits to their GP, he added, it was likely that many had under-reported their true consumption - meaning the problem may be even greater than realised.