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Study claims one in five over-65s drink at 'unsafe levels'

Published:  24 August, 2015

One in five over-65s who drink alcohol are consuming at unsafe levels according to a study by researchers at King's College London.

The study used GP health records from the London Borough of Lambeth and found that 1,980 of the 9,248 who reported consuming alcohol did so at levels above the recommended safe guidelines.

Men were more likely to be unsafe drinkers than women - 46% of people in the study were male, but they were 60% of the drinkers and 65% of the unsafe drinkers.

Dr Tony Rao, lead author from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King's College, said: "As the Baby Boomer generation become seniors, they represent an ever increasing population of older people drinking at levels that pose a risk to their health.

"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."

The median alcohol consumption was six units per week for all over-65s who reported drinking but within the top 5%, consumption was more than 49 units per week for men and over 23 units for women.

Dr Mark Ashworth, from the college's Division of Health & Social Care, said: "Alcohol excess carries additional risks in the older population such as falls and confusion."

He added: 'Based on our findings, the elderly who were most at risk were those from the white British population rather than from an ethnic minority, and those who were wealthier and better educated rather than those from a more deprived background."