Alcohol misuse by over-50s on rise in Australia and New Zealand, study finds – The Guardian

It’s ‘critically important’ to identify hazardous drinking in older people, researchers say

Baby boomers worldwide are drinking more than previous generations of older adults. Photograph: Alamy

Adults over 50 in Australia and New Zealand are increasingly drinking at hazardous levels requiring hospitalisation, research presented at an international alcohol conference on Tuesday has found.

Researchers from Massey University, the University of Auckland and the University of New South Wales concluded it was now critical for aged-care workers and doctors to identify alcohol misuse in older people, as well as the possible long-term impacts on cognition.

“With the number of older people requiring treatment for alcohol-use disorders predicted to increase substantially in coming years, it’s critically important that we improve our response now,” said Professor Michael Farrell, the director of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Sydney.

Researchers reviewed international ambulance and health survey data and found baby boomers worldwide were drinking more than previous generations of older adults.

In New Zealand, up to 40% of older adults are hazardous drinkers, and those over 50 drink more frequently and more on each occasion than older adults in nine other countries including England, Russia, the United States, Mexico and China.

In Victoria, over-50s are responsible for the greatest increase in alcohol-related ambulance call-outs, the researchers found, and alcohol is increasingly a cause of young-onset dementia, a study of aged-care psychiatry patients at the Prince of Wales hospital in Sydney showed. The findings from these surveys were presented at the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol

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