A recent study published in the journal BMJ Open suggests that successful older people are more likely to exaggerate with alcohol use. The study indicates that men and women who are at least 50 years old and are healthy, sociable, wealthy and active also have the tendency to have harmful drinking habits.
It is known that alcohol consumption is more popular among young people. However the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2010 has discovered that nearly 40 percent of adults who are at least 65 years old consume alcohol and some of them even have drinking problems.
The study led by Professor José Iparraguirre from the Research Department at Age UK looked into the reasons behind harmful alcohol consumption. The research team analyzed 9.251 men and women who had 50 years or more. They were participants in the 2008-2009 and 2010-2011 ELSA (English Longitudinal Survey of Ageing). The people involved in the study were required to answer surveys containing questions about their weekly alcohol consumption. The researchers also took into account other factors which could have influenced their alcohol consumption such as depression, loneliness, smoking habits, physical activity, diet, educational attainment, employment status, caring responsibilities, social engagement and marital status.
The findings of the study indicate that both men and women who were reported to be in good health and who in addition had higher educational attainment and were smokers also had an increased risk of harmful drinking.
Women with a higher income were more likely to exaggerate with drinking when compared to women who did not have a high income. In addition researchers also discovered that the risk of harmful drinking declined as they aged, whereas in the case of men the risk peaked in their early 60s and afterwards started to decline.
Depression and loneliness did not influence drinking habits, but men who lived alone and were divorced or separated had higher changes of drinking more. Religious beliefs did not reduce alcohol consumption neither in women or men, but women with caring responsibilities had a reduced risk of harmful drinking.
Overall Iparraguirre concluded that the ones who were more likely to show harmful drinking habits were wealthy people with a successful aging process. He also remarked:
“Harmful drinking may then be a hidden health and social problem in otherwise successful older people. Consequently, and based on our results, we recommend the explicit incorporation of alcohol drinking levels and patterns into the successful aging paradigm.”
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