Tyne & Wear

Alcohol warning for older drinkers from North East researchers

pint of beer
Image caption Researchers said alcohol interventions were not working for older people

Many older people are damaging their health by drinking too much, north-east of England researchers have warned.

Newcastle and Sunderland University academics explored why people aged 65 to 90 drank above recommended levels.

They spoke to 53 North East men and women in the age group to learn more about their attitudes to alcohol.

The researchers have called for changes to the recommended safe drinking levels for people in the age group and for there to be specific alcohol advice.

The researchers, who carried out interviews and focus groups, said many people did not recognise themselves as heavy drinkers.

Dr Graeme Wilson, from Newcastle University's Institute of Health and Society, 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."

Chronic pain

Among those the researchers spoke to were a woman who said she drank a bottle of wine every day but said she did not have a problem because it did not have a big effect on her.

Researchers said heavy drinking in the age group was strongly linked to depression and anxiety and longer-term health problems.

They also said metabolism was slower and older people were likely to be taking prescribed medicines which would interact with alcohol and so it could have a bigger impact.

They found chronic pain, loneliness and bereavement were likely to lead to heavier drinking in later life.

The researchers said alcohol interventions were not working for older people with many in the group saying messages were confusing.

But Paul Green, director of communications for Saga, which specialises in products and services for the over-50s, said: "Whilst sensible drinking is sound advice, nannies don't need the nanny state telling them what to do.

"Our own research amongst almost 1,000 over-50s shows that they tend to drink less than 10 units of alcohol a week, much less than the recommended 14 for women and 21 for men."

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