Two new studies has indicated that people above the age of 65 years need not decrease their alcohol intake provided they stick to the same guidelines as that followed by younger adults. The study suggested that regular moderate drinking does not pose additional risk to the elderly.
Instead, the studies from researchers at the Peninsula Medical School in the South West of England propose that regular moderate liquor consumption may provide elderly people with some health benefits.
The researchers assessed the drinking levels of over 13,000 older people in England and the US, and looked at the effects on physical disability, mortality, cognitive function, depression, and well-being.
It was found that moderate drinking was fine for people over 65, and in some cases, even better than not drinking at all.
The researcher say that their findings come as good news to the elderly who want to get into the festive spirit, and who until now have lived by the commonly held belief that they have to reduce their alcohol consumption as they get older.
"We are not advocating that elderly people should go out and get ridiculously drunk," said Dr. Iain Lang, lead author of the two studies from the Peninsula Medical School.
"What we are saying is that current guidelines on drinking for the elderly are too conservative, and that a couple of drinks a day will do no harm, and will in fact have a more beneficial affect on cognitive and general health than abstinence," Dr. Lang added.
The researchers found that 10.8 per cent of US men, 28.6 per cent of UK men, 2.9 per cent of US women, and 10.3 per cent of UK women drank more than the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommended limit for people aged 65 and over.
They also showed that people who consumed on average more than one to two drinks a day achieved similar health results as those drinking on average more than zero to one drink a day.
The research team also noted that the worst results were in people who did not drink at all, and among heavy drinkers.
The association between liquor consumption and the risk of disability was found to be similar for both men and women.
"The upshot of this research is that 'a little of what you fancy does you good.' There is no reason why older people should not enjoy a tipple this Christmas, as long as they are sensible about it. Previous research has shown that middle-aged people can benefit from moderate drinking - these findings show the same applies to the over-65s," said Dr. Lang.