The UK is currently experiencing a generational shift in alcohol use. Harmful drinking is declining in every other age group except the over 50s.
The reasons for this are complex, but an ageing population using alcohol to cope with later life transitions is part of it.
A major study for Drink Wise, Age Well found that of those aged 50 plus who said they were drinking more now than in the past, 40% said it was due to retirement and 26% to bereavement. Other commonly cited reasons include loss of sense of purpose, fewer opportunities to socialise and a change in financial circumstances.
Stigma is a huge barrier to older adults getting help. People aged 50 plus are more likely to drink at home – where problems can go undetected – and less likely to be asked about their alcohol consumption.
Four-fifths of the over 50s who are at increased risk from their drinking have never been asked about their alcohol consumption by family, friends or health professionals.
We will all go through one or more of the life transitions shown in this film and some of us may use alcohol to cope. There is no shame in this.
If you recognise yourself or someone you care about in this film, face-to-face support is available in our five delivery areas, or you can get help using our web chat service. Studies have shown that older drinkers can and do make positive changes that help them to lead healthier lives.