Reducing alcohol misuse is very important to prevent premature death and serious negative health effects, such as alcoholic liver disease. Alcohol abuse carries additional risks in the older population such as falls and confusion. A new study has revealed that more older adults especially from the higher strata of the society are drinking alcohol at unsafe levels.
The study findings suggest that one in five older people who drink alcohol are consuming it at unsafe levels, over 21 units of alcohol for men and 14 units for women each week. The researchers found that older men were more likely to be unsafe drinkers than women.
Dr. Tony Rao, lead author from King's College London, said, "This study shows the need for greater awareness of the potential for alcohol related harm in older people, particularly those of higher socio-economic status, who may suffer the consequences of ill health from alcohol at an earlier age than those in previous generations."
While 46% of people in the study were male, they constituted 60% of the drinkers and 65% of the unsafe drinkers. The research team used electronic health records for 27,991 people aged 65 years in London. They identified 9,248 older people who had reported consuming alcohol and of these 1,980 people drank alcohol at unsafe levels. Alcohol drinkers were also more likely to be ethnically White or Irish; while people from Caribbean, African or Asian backgrounds were less likely to drink.
Co-author Dr. Mark Ashworth said, "The results highlight that as physicians, we need be more aware of the risk of older people, especially men, drinking excessively."
The research was published in BMJ Open.