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Alcohol a ‘growing’ problem for older people

Published on 20 February 2014 03:30 PM

Age UK has called for action on the 'growing and serious' problem of excessive drinking among older people.

The charity is speaking out after official figures showed mortality rates due to alcohol, among people aged 75 and over, have risen to their highest level since records began in 1991, the Guardian reports.



There was an 18% increase for men and 12% rise for women among older people, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this week.

This was despite an overall fall of 361 from the previous year to a new total of 8,367 alcohol-related deaths across all age groups.

The overall number of alcohol-related deaths per 100,000, adjusted for age, declined to 11.8 in 2012, which is its lowest level since 2000.

Isolation and loneliness can lead to excessive drinking

However, the ONS said Scotland was the only country in the UK in which male and female death rates were significantly lower in 2012 than 10 years earlier.

In 2012, there were 580 alcohol-related deaths among men aged 75 and over and there were 385 among women of the same age group.

The equivalent number of alcohol-related deaths for men aged 75 and over in 1991 was 257, calculated from a rate of 18.1 per 100,000. For women aged 75 and over there was the equivalent of 271 alcohol-related deaths, at a rate of 10.5 deaths per 100,000.

Women aged between 55-74 were the only other group seeing a rise in deaths from 2011 to 2012, with a 3% increase to 1,318 in 2012 and a rise in the rate per 100,000 from 19.5 to 19.8.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said experiences such as bereavement, isolation and loneliness can lead to excessive drinking.

Mental health disorders among older people are rising

'Whilst the spotlight on excessive drinking generally falls on younger people, the most significant increases in alcohol related harm are actually in older age groups, with people aged 65 and over also reporting the highest rates of drinking on five or more days a week,' she said.

Alcohol-related hospital admissions, illnesses and mental health disorders among older people are also sadly rising, she added.

Ms Abrahams called for 'appropriate and effective preventative and treatment services' to be made available now in order to help address the issue.

Copyright Press Association 2014

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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