Alcohol-related deaths in older people rising

Graeme Callander, Manager, Drink Wise, Age Well Glasgow

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Last month (August), the National Records of Scotland released figures that showed a 10% rise in the number of alcohol-related deaths in Scotland in 2016 over the previous year including alarming rates for older people.

There was an increase of 56 alcohol-related deaths to 468 in the 60-74 year-old age-group, while there were 147 alcohol-related deaths of people aged 75+, the highest ever recorded for that age group. 

Drink Wise, Age Well was established in 2014 to tackle the specific circumstances leading to increased alcohol-related harm in older people with a comprehensive, community-based, programme being run in five areas in the UK including Glasgow in Scotland.               

Older adults in the UK are more likely to drink every day, and drink above the recommended guidelines than any other age group. However, their symptoms are sometimes missed with the likes of memory problems, poor sleep and falls occasionally being attributed to ageing.

Another factor to consider is the stigma attached to problematic drinking that may prevent older people coming forward for help, and which also makes raising the subject so much more difficult for health professionals.

Drink Wise, Age Well provides free training to health professionals to better equip them to help people aged over 50 make healthier choices about alcohol as they age.

As pharmacists, we recognise that you frequently come into contact with older people presenting with common symptoms and want to support you in both identifying alcohol use and signposting individuals to dedicated help.

In Glasgow, that help includes confidential, one-to-one support and advice; peer support groups and social activities to help address social isolation.

However, the Drink Wise, Age Well website has plenty of hints and tips for both the public and health professionals no matter where they live and work.

To contact the Glasgow office about training, call 0800 304 7690.