drunkMany older people are damaging their health by drinking too much, researchers from the Universities of Newcastle & Sunderland have warned.

The academics spoke to more than 50 North East men & women to identify why people aged 65 to 90 drank above recommended levels and the impact of doing so.

After finding that heavy drinking in the age group was strongly linked to depression and anxiety and longer-term health problems, the researchers have called for changes to the recommended safe drinking levels and specific alcohol advice for older people.

Long-term health impact
Study lead Dr Graeme Wilson, from Newcastle University's Institute of Health and Society, said: "Many older people are drinking to a level that is having a long-term impact on their health, even if the damage they are doing is not always immediately apparent."

The researchers said many people did not recognise themselves as heavy drinkers including one woman who said she drank a bottle of wine every day but as it "did not effect her she didn't have a problem".

Other factors likely to lead to overconsumption included chronic pain, loneliness and bereavement. The researchers also added that metabolism was slower in older people who were likely to be taking prescribed medicines leading to a bigger impact when interacting with alcohol.

Confusing alcohol messages for older people
They concluded that alcohol interventions were not working for older people with many in the group saying messages were confusing.

However, Paul Green, director of communications for Saga, which specialises in products and services for the over-50s, suggested the researchers had overstated the extent of the issue.

"Our own research amongst almost 1,000 over-50s shows that they tend to drink less than 10 units of alcohol a week, much less than the recommended 14 for women and 21 for men," he said.

"While sensible drinking is sound advice, nannies don't need the nanny state telling them what to do.