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Elderly urged to cut drinking

Thursday June 23rd, 2011

Pensioners should cut their drinking - and too many are drinking too much, according to controversial proposals published yesterday.

Psychiatrists say people over 65 should drink no more than one and a half units of alcohol a day - equivalent to less than a pint of beer.

In total 11 units a week is the maximum safe level for older people, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

A report from the college says there is a hidden toll of alcohol and drug abuse among elderly people.

It calls for targeted public health campaigns to tackle the issue - and training for health professionals.

And it warns of growing levels of illegal drug use among Britain's baby boomers - suggesting problems may continue after they reach retirement age.

Dr Tony Rao, a consultant in old age psychiatry, said: "We are witnessing the birth of a burgeoning public health problem in a baby boomer generation of older people for whom alcohol and drug misuse is growing.

"There is a pressing need to meet this need with primary, secondary care and tertiary care services that can offer timely and effective detection, treatment and follow up for a large but hidden population."

GP Dr Stefan Janikiewicz, who was involved in developing the proposals, said: "Smoking and alcohol are still the most common forms of substance misuse that affect all age groups.

"Increasingly, GPs are responding to these issues. However, management of this demanding workload requires the support of specialist services and other agencies."

The UK Department of Health declined to propose changes to the recommended limits for drinking.

A spokesperson said: "Alcohol misuse is a major public health issue, no matter what age you are.

"We are already taking action to tackle problem drinking, including plans to stop supermarkets selling below cost alcohol and working to introduce a tougher licensing regime.

"However, individuals have responsibilities too and everyone should drink responsibly within the recommended alcohol limits."

Tags: Drug & Alcohol Abuse | Elderly Health | UK News

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