It could kill us but we do it every day… 67



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As we get older we face a multitude of different health problems and many lead to medication. The chronic illnesses associated with ageing mean that we have no choice but to keep on living while dealing with whatever treatment we’re prescribed. But sometimes to give ourselves the best chance of health, we need to alter our lifestyle too and right now, over 60s aren’t.

The Australian Ageing Agenda released a statement on Friday announcing that a program to introduce drug and alcohol screening of older people in the community would help to build awareness of a problem many over 60s face. While it is seemingly harmless to have a glass of wine or two a night (and studies tell us that it is “good” for us because of the antioxidants), if we’re not careful it could be very bad. And this has nothing to do with excess consumption.

The medications that older Australians take are likely to be impacted by alcohol and can cause adverse reactions. This coupled with the changes in body composition, metabolism and weakening of bones makes alcohol far more dangerous than we realise.

The screening test is being trialled with a group of older Australians in New South Wales and South Australia. The tool called the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screen Test (ASSIST) will help people and their doctors to stay informed about their indulgent habits and align these with their health.

When someone has been drinking every day for decades changing the habit is unnatural and ill effects that it can cause often go unnoticed by the individual.

Previous studies from the National Centre for Education and Training on Addictions found that while younger Australians drink more in one sitting (binge drinking), older Australians are chronic drinkers and are more likely to consume alcohol alone and daily.

The dangers of alcohol especially in old age come down largely to mental health. Alcohol affects neurotransmitters that are required to reinforce good mental health. The common behaviour of reaching for a glass when we’re feeling down, stressed or anxious therefore doesn’t improve our situation and only perpetuates the poor mental health cycle.

Last week the Sunshine Coast Daily reported that 10-15 per cent of older Australians experience depression and a further 10 per cent experience anxiety. There’s also a significant increase in the suicide rate of men as they age.

The alcohol-screening test hopes to stop the cycle of alcohol fuelled health problems as we age.


Today tell us, how often do you drink? Have you stopped due to taking certain medications? Share your stories in the comments below…

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I think there are a lot more serious issues out there for older people than a glass or two of wine each day
    I have worked in pharmacy for many many years and one of the things that has always been a problem is that older people don’t get enough information about their meds…. Lots of people are taking medication they don’t even know what for….often the pharmacist will recommend a medication review and it turns out that a patient may be taking unnecessary meds that were prescribed years ago and the doctor just keeps repeating the script!

  2. Stuff and nonsense, from my twenties to retirement I would regularly have a drink, over the last 10 years or so, usually with during or after the evening meal. When I retired I still had one son at university, and I was a single parent about to be on a pension. I calculated my little pleasures that I could do without – lotto and those drinks were the least important at the time. I chose to keep lotto, a good move actually I won $12.000 shortly thereafter. I did think of getting a drink here and there, but as I got older less and less, HOWEVER, all those years of a tiddle through the week has had no effect on my health and at 72 I’m in pretty good shape, so sixties and over if it’s enjoyable for you go ahead and have that drink with your partner or your dog at happy hour whenever you want to.

  3. If you can afford a glass or two of wine each day then you are doing very well and are probably not relying solely on the pension.

    2 REPLY
    • I just know that if I had to pay rent or mortgage I wouldn’t be able to cope easily on the pension alone and my needs are modest apart from medication.

  4. If you do every give up everything they say to stay healthy you would be better off dead angway ha ha ha

  5. Don’t think I am in any danger from the amount I drink but will certainly continue to have a glass when I am incline do. Have just enjoyed wine from Peru my son brought back …. Very nice wine.

  6. With all due respect we eventually die of something. My older sister died from cancer before her 59th. Be happy

  7. If you’re used to drinking wine nightly keep on doing it ..your likely to go into withdrawal if you stop abruptly

  8. We are living too long, our health care is too expensive, we are keeping young people out of affordable housing, but at least the Wine growers love us !

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