Older people are choosing to drink more

Older people appear to be choosing to drink more, judging by newly-released figures. Compiled for BBC Inside Out London by the NHS Information Centre, the statistics revealed a significant rise in the number of elderly individuals being treated for alcohol-related problems in the capital.

According to the findings, there has been a 163 per cent increase in hospital admissions for over-65s imbibing too much over the last decade.

In addition, it was discovered that this rate is climbing at a greater speed for this demographic than any other age group in the UK.

Dr Claire Gerado, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners - which was founded in 1952, shortly after the introduction of the NHS in 1948 - said people tend to think more about young people when it comes to such issues.

She added: "The young ones are more visible - they vomit in streets. You don't tend to see a retired 70-year-old bank manager vomiting in the street."

Mike Hopley, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "The issue of older people drinking is an extremely complex one. By the time we reach mature years, we have usually had a host of life experiences - some good and some bad and those remain in our memory and can haunt us.

"We might have lost our partner and so be lonely. We might have retired and feel that society has not further use for us. We will have come from a generation that had different values and beliefs to the one that is current and we are constantly reminded of that. We might have become infirm and reports of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems amongst this age group are still not taken as seriously as they should be. We also find ourselves at an age where our mortality is reinforced almost every day by life events and often have a lot of time on our hands to ruminate on these facts. We might however have preserved some pride and be reluctant to admit that we are struggling with things, perhaps even our alcohol use and, of course, we might not consider we have a problem with alcohol. It might just be a problem for others.

"There is no doubt that many individuals will have tried alcohol to deal with emotional events experienced at this time of life and some will stick with it, as the dose can usually be controlled and the substance might meet the individual's needs and gives them a quality of life that they would not otherwise enjoy.

"In terms of providing treatment to this population, it is often the case that without specialist treatment provision, there is going to be a limited chance of an intervention being successful.

"Older people are unlikely to be helped by generic treatment provision and will lose motivation for change if what is being provided fails to consider their special circumstances and offer an alternative to their current method of coping."