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Thursday 20th June 2019

Drinking concern in Wales

26th May 2011

Fears have been raised over problems of heavy drinking among the elderly in Wales.


The charity Alcohol Concern Cymru (AAC) has spoke of a silent epidemic of drinking in its briefing paper 'Hidden Harm? Alcohol and older people in Wales'.

It claims that while drinking tends to decline with age, this pattern may conceal serious alcohol-related problems among some older people.

Andrew Misell, the charity’s manager in Wales, said: “With the number of people over retirement age increasing, some researchers have even talked about a silent epidemic of older people's alcohol issues.”

Its figures point to the number of people aged 65 who admitted drinking more than the recommended rising from 22% (men) and 7% (women) in 2003/4 to 34% and 17% in 2009.

However, there is some dispute over whether the figures – taken from the Welsh Health Survey – are comparable because of changes in the way data was being compiled from 2006 onwards.

AAC has defended the statistics as an illustration of the problem, though Mr Misell added: “It’s certainly the case that more work needs to be done in terms of finding out what exactly is the pattern of drinking among older people. The point of the paper is that it's a hidden problem.”

However, the Portman Group, which represents the drinks industry, hit back.

Its chief executive David Poley said: “Just as we encourage people to drink responsibly, we would urge Alcohol Concern Cymru to use alcohol statistics responsibly. Overall trends show a positive and continuing decline in the rates of excessive drinking.”


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