While binge drinking and excessive alcohol consumption has long been linked to youngsters and youth, new research has found that it’s also a big problem for older members of society.
Findings published by Massey University in New Zealand found up to 40 per cent of adults over the age of 50 are considered hazardous drinkers. What’s worse is the figure increases to 50 per cent for men in the same age group.
According to the research, it’s a worrying trend, especially because older bodies can’t process alcohol as well as they could when they were younger, meaning Boomers often get drunk quicker and feel the effects of drinking more. Alcohol can also worsen many health conditions faced by older people, while it can also interfere with a variety of medications.
Researchers used data from more than 4,000 over-50s New Zealanders from the Health, Work and Retirement study and compared the number of hazardous drinkers identified on a standard screening test (the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption screening) and a screening test specific to older people (the Comorbidity Alcohol Risk Evaluation Tool).
The results found 83 per cent of older people in the sample were current drinkers, 13 per cent were past drinkers and 4 per cent had never drank at all. The first screening sample identified 35 per cent of older people were hazardous drinkers, while 40 per cent of ageing population in the second screening were labelled the same.
Researchers said around 10 per cent of drinkers on the AUDIT-C screening were considered hazardous because of a stricter threshold of the screening and because medication and ill health could increase the danger of drinking for these people. According to the findings, healthy men were more likely to engage in hazardous drinking and binge drink more frequently. It also found healthy men and women who drank small amounts of alcohol regularly were also considered hazardous drinkers.
Researchers concluded that health professionals need to screen healthy adults for their alcohol use and that drinking more than five times a week is a cause for concern. In addition, older people in poor health also need to be screened, given alcohol could impact their condition.
Read more: Do Baby Boomers drink too much?
The latest research comes after data published in the British Medical Journal found alcohol consumption is on the decline for all age groups in the United Kingdom and Australia – except for people over the age of 40. One in four people aged between 50 and 59 were found to be drinking at risky levels, thought to be more than 11 standard drinks in a single session.
The number of older people consuming more than 11 standard drinks increased between 2004 and 2013, with an 11.9 per cent rise in 2016 alone.