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Daily drink for pensioners at home brings health warning

Almost one in five pensioners drinks alcohol at home every day, according to new research.

It was said that while public perception focuses on drinking issues among the young, alcohol consumption among older people is an increasing concern.

The study, by the consumer analysts Mintel, found excessive drinking among Britain's over-65s, with 18 per cent of that age group drinking at home on a daily basis.

In contrast it found only one in nine young adults aged 18 to 24 drinking at home every day, while people the least likely to be home drinkers are those aged 45 to 54 , of whom eight per cent enjoy a daily drink at home.

The findings prompted a health warning and a call from charities for alcohol safety programmes to include older people.

The research follows previous concerns of so-called "Saga louts", or older people who have become embroiled in trouble under the influence of alcohol.

Jonny Forsyth, Mintel's global drinks analyst, said the public perception is that "irresponsible drinking is the domain of younger drinkers". He said: "The current ­generation of younger drinkers are one of the most sensible generations we have seen, and their attitude to alcohol - and indeed all drugs - is far more conservative than their Baby Boomer parents. It is clear the 45 to 54-year-old age group are still malleable to health messages, whereas those aged 65 and over tend to have much more ingrained drinking habits.

"They were brought up to think that drinking every day in moderation was okay, and many have maintained this behaviour, especially as they retire and have more leisure time on their hands, despite it being to the detriment of their health."

Almost nine out of 10 adults (87 per cent) have drunk at home in the last year, while 83 per cent did so outside the home.

The charity Age Scotland said that many older people enjoy alcoholic drinks moderately without substantial risks to their health.

"But drinking at home may be a symptom of wider issues such as boredom or loneliness," it added.

"Excessive drinking can contribute towards falls, illnesses, and mental health disorders. Also, if occurring at home, problem drinking can be harder for others to notice. Family members may also find it difficult to discuss drinking issues with their older relatives."

It said that anyone with a query about an older person's drinking - either themselves or someone they care about - can call their confidential helpline, Silver Line Scotland.

Evelyn Gillan, Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: "Drinking at home has increased across all age groups in Scotland.

"However, older people can face additional risks from their alcohol consumption due to medication use, changes in metabolism affecting tolerance of alcohol, or other factors.

"Having an alcohol strategy in place that tackles harm across the whole population is important, not just focusing on young people's drinking as has traditionally been the case."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "While most people in Scotland drink responsibly, there is no doubt we need to tackle this country's difficult relationship with alcohol. Drinking too much remains an issue across different ages, genders and socio-economic groups.

"Increasing affordability in the off-trade is driving the trend for home drinking. That's why we continue to press the case for minimum unit pricing, as part of a concerted package of measures, to tackle the cheap, high-strength alcohol that does the most damage to Scottish communities."

Contextual targeting label: 
Health

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