Address ‘blind spot’ around older drinkers, charity urges

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More needs to be done to help older adults avoid alcohol-related harm, says a new report from the International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK). Retirement is a ‘danger point’ for problem drinking, states the document, with recent retirees more likely to drink every day.

Nearly a third of over-50s in the ‘professional occupational classes’ drink between five and seven days a week, with stress, boredom and ‘lack of control over work and retirement worries’ contributing to the higher consumption levels of those still in work, it says.

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Recent retirees are more likely to drink every day, says the new report from ILC-UK.

The report, which was commissioned by Drink Wise, Age Well, wants to see both the government and employers do more to help the over 50s ‘avoid serious alcohol problems in later life’. This could include counselling and workplace policies that treat alcohol like ‘any other health issue’, as well as making it easier for older people who’ve had an alcohol problem to return to the workforce. Just 16 per cent of employers said they would consider employing someone with a previous alcohol problem, the document points out. GPs should also consider the effects of retirement when giving alcohol health advice, it says.

‘Retirement is like a cliff edge and often older people go from having a busy schedule and colleagues to interact with, to days where they might not see anyone or even have a conversation on the phone,’ said chief executive of older people’s charity the Royal Voluntary Service, David McCullough. ‘It doesn’t take long for loneliness to set in and drinking a little more than they should each day can quickly become the norm. It’s vital that people facing retirement or those recently retired remain mentally and physically active and engaged in their community, and we would urge employers to ensure they have the necessary support and guidance in place to help employees with what can be a very steep transition.’

Easing the transition – older adults and the labour market at drinkwiseagewell.org.uk