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Scots over 50s must cut back on drink

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Most age groups are curtailing alcohol except over 50s

Nearly one in five Scots over 50 who drink think they should cut back on the amount of alcohol they consume, according to research from a leading campaign group

Drink Wise, Age Well released data to show harmful drinking is declining among every age group except the over 50s.

Asked if younger people (18-30) have a healthier attitude towards alcohol, 25% of Scottish over 50s agreed. However, when asked which age group is most likely to experience negative consequences of drinking too much alcohol, the majority of respondents (38%) said 18-29 year olds, while 17% said 50-69 year olds.

According to official statistics, in Scotland, 55-64 year olds are the most likely to exceed the UK drinking guidelines, while younger generations are drinking less. Alcohol-specific death rates have fallen in Scotland, although only in the under 65s.

Alcohol-specific death rates have increased in those aged 75-84. In 2017 the highest rate of alcohol-specific deaths was in ages 65-69. The survey found 19% of over 50s in Scotland don’t drink alcohol and 8% of those who do drink are currently cutting back.

The survey coincides with the publication of Calling Time for Change, a charter for politicians and policy makers in Scotland about how to reduce alcohol harm among people over 50. The charter was co-designed with people and families affected by alcohol problems and experts in alcohol and ageing.

Julie Breslin, Head of Drink Wise, Age Well said: “For some of us, getting older brings challenges. Big life events like retirement, poor health, and bereavement can leave us feeling lonely and isolated. It’s easy to fall into the habit of drinking more, and it often works at first. But over time, the problems mount up. We’re now seeing these problems flashing red in public health data. Too many older people in Britain are dying earlier and losing healthy years from alcohol-related problems.

“The good news is it’s entirely possible for people to change their relationship with alcohol and take charge of their health. We see it every day. But services urgently need to catch up. We need to design them in such a way that they feel welcoming to people over 50. At the moment we’re only reaching a tiny fraction of the people who could use some support.”

Carol Watson, 64, who has experience of alcohol problems and is a member of the Calling Time for Change group, said: “Producing this charter has allowed us to use our experience of alcohol problems to recommend what can be done to help people make changes. It’s no secret that Scotland has a dreadful record with alcohol and we believe this charter is a huge step in the right direction.

“Our group is living proof that the right support can achieve incredible results. We feel like we matter and that we have a purpose, which is one of the key things to overcoming hurdles as we get older.”



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