Alcohol and Seniors
Despite the increased number of people aged 75 years and over very little is known about drinking patterns and alcohol related harm among the elderly (1) Three main age based senior cohorts have been identified: Broe (2004)
- young-old (65-74 years)
- older-old (75-84 years)
- old-old (85 years and older)
There is some evidence to suggest that the 65-74 years of age group (the younger old) are likely to drink at risky levels and will drive future health costs (Broe 2004). The DEN is committed to exploring and expanding the research that is currently available in this area, through active research and community consultation activities to contribute to redressing the limitations of knowledge and understanding on alcohol and other drug use by senior Tasmania’s. The research project aims to:
- Contribute to redressing the limitations of knowledge and understanding of alcohol and other drug use by senior Tasmanians
- Obtain research and understanding about the patterns of drinking among the ageing population.
- To develop appropriate interventions that reflects both risk and protective factors influencing alcohol and other drug use for senior Tasmanians.
The DEN commenced the project by undertaking a community consultation to ascertain what the main areas of concern were for older people in Tasmania. These were:
- Clarity concerning prescription medications
- Chronic disease links with alcohol
- Advertising and sponsorship of alcohol and the impact on young people
- Concern re alcohol license outlets allowed in and or nearby the supermarket
- Loneliness and social isolation and links to alcohol and depression/mental illness
- Young people being given alcohol by guardians
- Cannabis and the effects in later life.
- The effect on grandparents raising their grandchildren due to AOD use
- Older persons often don’t discuss AOD and associated harm i.e. generational AOD use?
From these consultations the DEN has broken the key research area of Alcohol and Seniors into two sub research projects:
- The Impact of Alcohol and Other Drugs on the Older Person’s in Tasmania
- Contemporary practices of health professionals working with older people presenting with possible alcohol misuse
Further information about these is available below
Impact of AOD Use
- Seniors risk level of drinking
- Drinking patterns – i.e in isolation
- Alcohol and medical conditions
- Alcohol & tobacco – Risk factors of burden and injury
- Alcohol, positive & negative effects
- Medication and related hospital admission
- Grandparents raising grandchildren
- Drugs and driving
The project has undertaken a survey with older person’s across Tasmania to acquire insight and information into the impact of alcohol and other drug use. The survey closed in February 2011 and finding are currently being analysed, and should be available during August 2011.
Utilising the current findings and research The DEN has developed information sessions on the topic aimed at health professionals and Tasmanian senior groups. These sessions provide an overview of current alcohol and other drug related issues that are impacting on the ageing population in Australia and Tasmania.
The DEN Contributes to policy and program development related to senior alcohol and drug use, as well as the implementation of programs at a local and state level.
The research projects have a statewide focus. The findings and related activities are aimed at:
- Tasmanians over 65 years
- Families and carer groups
- Health professionals
- Service providers and managers
- Policy makers
- Program planners
- Other researchers
Broe, G. (2004). From the president. Australian Association of Gerentology Newsletter, July 1. O’Halloran, J., Britt, H., Valenti, L.et al. (2003). Older patients attending general practice in Australia 2000-02. (AIHW Cat No. GEP12). Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The focus of this research area is; Contemporary practices of health professionals working with older people presenting with possible alcohol misuse. The project aims to explore current practices of health professionals working with older people presenting with possible alcohol misuse.
The literature identifies alcohol misuse as a key health risk factor for older people along with considerable gaps in specific support services for them and limited research being conducted to examine the issues.
This research will attempt to impact change for older people effected by alcohol issues by identifying gaps, addressing gaps and then utilising the research to design and implement appropriate programs in collaboration with other appropriate agencies to support older people with alcohol problems.
Cost and Contact
Free of charge
Community Development Project Officer
Tel: 6336 7954 Mobile: 0439982215
These three National Indicator Bulletins provide further information in relation to Alcohol and Seniors and can be viewed here.
Regretfully we have not been able to provide a link to current statistics around trends in alcohol consumption and related harms for older Australians/Tasmania’s. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare advise that data from population-based surveys is “collected every 3 or 5 years or even less often…[and]…whether collected recently or not, data can often take a year or more before it is fully processed and released” It “often needs some months to ensure the full quality and accuracy of statistics and their analysis before they are released. Though these statistics are a little out dated they are considered useful for following trends over a number of years. Once more recent statistics become available this web-link will be updated appropriately.
Trends in Alcohol Consumption and Related Harms for Australians Aged 65 to 74 Years (the ‘young-old’), 1990-2003. The eighth bulletin documents trends in alcohol-attributable harms due to risky and high risk drinking among those aged 65-74 years in Australia. An estimated 5,746 ‘young-old’ Australians died from alcohol-attributable injury and disease between 1994 and 2003, mostly due to alcoholic liver cirrhosis and haemorrhagic stroke. Falls were the most common cause of hospitalisations in this age group. Annual rates for all states and territories have been presented, as well as comparisons between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and metropolitan and non-metropolitan regions.
Trends in Alcohol Consumption and Related Harms for Australians Aged 75 to 84 Years (the ‘older-old’), 1990-2003. The ninth bulletin documents trends in alcohol-attributable harms due to risky and high risk drinking among Australians aged 75-84 years. An estimated 3,320 ‘older-old’ Australians died from alcohol-attributable injury and disease between 1994 and 2003, mostly due to haemorrhagic stroke and alcoholic liver cirrhosis. Falls were the most common cause of hospitalisations in this age group. Annual rates for all states and territories have been presented, as well as a comparison between metropolitan and non-metropolitan regions.
Trends in Alcohol Consumption and Related Harms for Australians Aged 85 Years and Older (the ‘old-old’), 1990-2003. The tenth bulletin documents trends in alcohol-attributable harms due to risky and high risk drinking among those aged 85 years and over in Australia. An estimated 1,526 ‘old-old’ Australians died from alcohol-attributable injury and disease between 1994 and 2003, mostly due to strokes and falls. Falls were also the most common cause of hospitalisations in this age group. Annual rates for all states and territories have been presented, as well as a comparison between metropolitan and non-metropolitan regions.