A study by Newcastle and Sunderland Universities shows heavy drinking is more likely to cause long term problems for those over 65. Academics are calling for the recommended levels for safe drinking to be changed.
Researchers at Newcastle and Sunderland have found older people should drink less alcohol or risk damaging their health. Their study suggests heavy drinking is more likely to cause long term problems for those over 65 years old.
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, for example longer in-home support, tailored information on the risks from alcohol in later life, or health workers with specific training on older people’s needs.
We also think the Government really needs to start looking at lowering the recommended limit for alcohol consumption in those over 65.
– Dr Katie Haighton, Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University
We support the call for clearer guidance and information to be made available in order for Older People to make informed choices about how much Alcohol they consume. Most of the people that approach us are not clear how the body reacts to alcohol as we get older or effects when combined with prescribed medications. GPs sometimes don't explain in detail some of these effects.
This research also shows it is important to have a range of social activities available for older people to alleviate social isolation and as additional support following bereavement or illness.We need to address the social as well as the medical issues this research highlights
– John Briers, Chief Executive of Age UK, South Tyneside
Newcastle University academics have called for changes to the recommended safe levels of drinking for over 65s and for special alcohol advice to be made available for older people.
It follows research from Newcastle and Sunderland Universities looking at why many older people continue to drink to levels which are harmful to their health.
Current recommended safe levels of drinking are 14 units a week for women and 21 for men.
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.