Staying safe as we age

Alcohol use is a growing problem among older people in the UK. It is now estimated that 1 in 3 people aged 65 and over are experiencing some sort of problem as a result of alcohol.

Growing old is something that none of us can escape. As we age our body changes. These changes have such an impact that our body can’t cope as well as it used to with alcohol. These changes may be subtle, such as experiencing worse hangovers. However they can be more serious and life threatening, such as blacking out and falling.

As we go through life we must cope with its ups and downs, children grow up and move on, we enter retirement, lose loved ones. These experiences can lead us to drink more, often at home and sometimes in isolation.

Here are some practical tips to reduce the amount you drink:

  • Switch to low alcohol drinks.
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks.
  • Alter your social activities to include time spent away from pubs.
  • If you usually drink when you are anxious or depressed, try to find another activity to relieve those feelings. If the feelings are too big to deal with on your own, confide in loved ones or a professional.
  • Reduce the amount of time spent in the company of friends who are heavier drinkers.
  • Drink smaller measures and take sips not gulps. Also use smaller glasses.
  • If you are drinking wine at home, leave the bottle in the kitchen.
  • Try having your first drink later than normal and your last drink earlier than normal.

No, you don’t have to give up drinking. Most of the adult population who drink alcohol, do so without causing themselves harm. However it is important that you are able to make informed choices about how much you drink.

Consider how much you drink and ask yourself if it is having a negative impact on your relationships, your health and well-being, and your quality of life.

If the answer is yes you might want to start making some healthier choices about your alcohol use. As we age, even drinking within the recommended guidelines may affect us more than we think.

The answer is no. Actually, you might be surprised to hear that as people age they are more likely to make positive changes.

In fact, older adults who have problems with alcohol, who seek help, do better than any other age group at making positive changes to their drinking behaviour.

If you are experiencing falls, memory loss, or notice that you can’t drink as much as you used to, Kaleidoscope can give you advice on alcohol and your health.

We don’t judge your alcohol use, we are here to help you achieve your goals, whatever they are.

Drinking as you age can increase your chances of accidents, falls and fractures. Also, older women are more sensitive than men to the effects of alcohol.

Drinking too much alcohol over a long time can:

  • Lead to some kinds of cancer, liver damage, immune system disorders and brain damage.
  • Worsen some health conditions like osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, ulcers, memory loss and mood disorders.
  • Make some medical problems hard for doctors to find and treat. Alcohol causes changes in the heart and blood vessels, and these can dull pain that might be a warning of a heart attack.
  • Cause some older people to be forgetful and confused – these symptoms could be mistaken for signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

"I used to get up at about 4am, and if I didn't have a drink I'd be shaking. I didn't want people to see the person I'd become. Now I've got my life back, I'm a better grandfather, father and husband."

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