More over-50s turning to alcohol

Retirement and bereavment are driving over-50s to exceed the government's recommended limits on alcohol consumption. Picture: PA

Retirement and bereavment are driving over-50s to exceed the government's recommended limits on alcohol consumption. Picture: PA

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A large number of older people are turning to alcohol in response to the difficulties posed by later life, a study has found.

Retirement, bereavement and a loss of purpose are among factors leading 20 per cent of over-50s to drink more than the government’s previous recommended limits, the research said. Feeling like a failure, being depressed or downhearted were also found to make the chances of becoming a high-risk drinker almost four times more likely.

The former recommended drinking limits, in place when the survey was conducted, defined high-risk as consuming more than 50 units weekly for men, or 35 units for women. The new guidelines state: “You are safest not to drink regularly more than 14 units per week.”

The report called on the government to tackle the issue, after finding the NHS spends more on alcohol treatment for 55- to 74-year-olds than 16- to 24-year-olds.

The report said: “Government strategies and ­public health initiatives often focus on younger people; networks of family members, colleagues 
and friends who often identify problem drinking in older adults can decline in later life.”

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