Within the United Kingdom, older people experience more alcohol-related hospitalisations and deaths than any other age group. Risky drinking amongst older people is not just confined to the United Kingdom. Potentially harmful patterns of drinking are common amongst older age groups across the globe. Older people are not only at risk because they drink more often, but also because quantities of alcohol that may have been safer earlier in life have the potential to damage an older person’s health if, like most, they have medical conditions or take medications. However, moderate drinking in older age has been linked with some health benefits, and drinking may also have a positive impact on their social lives. The impact of alcohol on older people is complex, and many different factors can influence their choices. To modify riskier drinking in later life and support people to live longer, healthier lives, it’s vital that we understand these complexities. Continue reading →
A paper published this week in Age & Ageing, the scientific journal of The British Geriatrics Society, expands upon earlier research that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with lower levels of inflammation, and explores the potential for decreased risk for age-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease and frailty.
The editorial, which was written by researchers at The National Institute on Ageing in the United States, highlights the statistical correlation between moderate alcohol consumption and downregulation of C-reactive protein, an important biomarker of inflammation used in clinical practice. Ageing is associated with progressively higher levels inflammation and evidence has shown that individuals with raised levels of C-reactive protein are at higher risk for developing many age-related medical conditions including frailty, poor physical performance and low muscle strength. Inflammation is also a well-documented independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Continue reading →
Prof Margda Waern, psychiatrist and professor at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg
Health benefits related to mild to moderate alcohol consumption include better cardiac and cerebrovascular health, decreased risk of dementia and improved quality of life. This might help to explain why we are nowadays less likely to discontinue drinking as we age. There may, however, be a down side. Over-consumption of alcohol can increase risk of cognitive impairment, self-neglect and falls. Considering this, it is surprising that we know so little about the extent to which older people engage in potentially harmful drinking. Continue reading →
Research published today in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, shows that the number of older drinkers classified as hazardous alcohol consumers would be in excess of three million
if age specific drinking recommendations proposed in a Royal College of Psychiatrists report were to be implemented.
Our Invisible Addicts, a report published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in June 2011, suggested lowering the daily recommended alcohol limit for older people to an upper limit of an average of 1.5 units a day (averaged over a week) for people aged 65 or over. It also suggested reclassifying binge drinking for older consumers as the consumption in a single session of more than 4.5 units for men and more than 3 units for women. Continue reading →