Affluent over the age of 50 years who are healthy and have active social lives are more likely to drink harmful amounts of alcohol than others in the same age group, says a new study.
The study in the online BMJ Open journal
looked at the drinking habits of more than 9,000 people aged 50 and over in England and classified "higher-risk" drinking levels as about three medium-sized glasses of wine a day for men and two for women.
Over the course of a week, consuming more than 50 units of alcohol is considered a higher risk drinking level for men, and 35 units or more for women.
"We can sketch -- at the risk of much simplification -- the problem of harmful alcohol drinking among people aged 50 or over in England as a middle-class phenomenon," said the researchers.
"People in better health, higher income, with higher educational attainment and socially more active are more likely to drink at harmful levels."
"Harmful drinking may then be a hidden health and social problem in otherwise successful older people," they added.
The findings could have implications for aging models used by healthcare organizations, with riskier drinking prevalent among those who are otherwise "successfully aging" -- non-smokers with greater physical activity, more social contacts and absence of depression.