The post-war generation in particular – baby boomers – are drinking more. We also know that men and women drink more at home nowadays, and the increasing ease with which you can add a cheap box of wine bottles to the weekly online shop, delivered to your door, is fuelling the problem.
Female ‘baby boomers’ drank more when they were younger, because more went out to work where the drinking culture was already established by men, and then they continued to drink more as a group.
Sometimes people are ‘self-medicating’ with alcohol for stress – from looking after ageing parents, and debt-ridden adult children who have returned to the family home, while all the time holding down an exhausting paid job. Or they are caring for grandchildren. Women and men might begin drinking more after a forced early retirement because the sudden abundance of free time can leave people with the feeling they’ve lost purpose in life. They might have suffered from loneliness after the death of a spouse, or friends, or a divorce.
But this sort of drinking habit can have devastating consequences as you get older. In two-thirds of the cases of alcohol abuse in later life, people have had a drinking problem that got worse over the years.
I would strongly urge people in their fifties and sixties, and older, to ‘think before they drink’, especially if on medication. Excessive consumption is leading to early deaths from liver disease, heart disease, stroke, and cancer, and fuelling depression and anxiety. Men and women may also have problems managing diabetes and high blood pressure, and heavy drinking exacerbates dementia. And women don’t tolerate alcohol as well as men, and start to have alcohol-related problems at lower drinking levels than men. We also know that the body’s ability to process alcohol decreases with age. Even if you were a moderate drinker in your youth, you may find that the same amount of alcohol you used to drink will lead to trouble when you’re older. Priory has launched a campaign on the hidden signs of drinking to excess.
Top five hacks to give up alcohol
The cost savings – halving your restaurant bill
There are huge benefits to giving up drinking including tangible ones and the fact that it will virtually halve the cost of eating out in restaurants at a stroke. And if you spend, say, around £20 a week on 2 bottles of wine for drinking …