Academics call for reduction in recommended safe drinking levels for over 65s (From The Northern Echo)
For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Research by Newcastle and Sunderland universities prompts calls for safe drinking levels for over 65s
NORTH-EAST academics have called for changes to be made to the recommended safe levels of drinking for over 65s.
The call comes as the team from Newcastle and Sunderland Universities publish a paper which looks at the reasons why many older people continue to drink to harmful levels.
The paper, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found that many older people may not recognise they are heavy drinkers.
Academics interviewed 53 men and women aged between 65 and 90.
They wanted to find out the reasons why so many people continue to drink to unhealthy levels.
Current recommended safe levels of drinking are 14 units a week for women and 21 for men. Many of those interviewed were very relaxed about high alcohol intake.
Dr Graeme Wilson, from Newcastle University, said: "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."
In England, 28 per cent of men over 65 years and 14 per cent of women over 65 now drink alcohol more than 5 times per week.
One woman said she drank a bottle of wine every day, about 63 units a week, but said didn't have a problem because it didn't have a big effect on her. Others who were interviewed talked of having five or six pints and thought there was no problem with that because they didn't suffer any immediate adverse effects.
But 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. And so far public health messages about harmful drinking have not been as effective for the older age group as they have for the younger.
Older people saw drinking alcohol as a positive way to relax and be sociable with friends and family. Dr Katie Haighton, also at the Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, said: "We think the Government really needs to start looking at lowering the recommended limit for alcohol consumption in those over 65."
The study was funded by Age UK.
Comments are closed on this article.