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One in five baby boomers drink to ‘unsafe’ levels

One in five people over the age of 65 drink to “unsafe levels” with men consuming more than 21 units and women more than 14 each week, according to a study by King’s College London.

The study took into account 27,991 people aged over 65 in the London Borough of Lambeth. Of these people, 9,248 reported consuming alcohol with 1,980 drinking to excessive levels. Unsafe drinkers were more likely to be male, aged closer to 65 and have a higher socioeconomic status.

“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”, said Dr Tony Rao, lead author from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London.

“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 average level of alcohol consumption was six units per week for those that reported drinking alcohol. While one in five were found to drink more than the maximum recommended number of units per week, the top 5% of alcohol drinkers reported consuming more than 49 units per week for men and more than 23 units per week for women.

Those who chose to drink alcohol, to excess or to a moderate level, were also more likely to be ethnically white or Irish, while people from Caribbean, African or Asian ethnicities were less likely to drink.

Dr Mark Ashworth, study author from the division of health and social care research at King’s College London said: “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.”

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