More older drinkers being treated by NHS5th March 2009
Drink-related hospital admissions for the over 65s are on the increase, according to NHS data.
Over the last year, pensioners made up more than 320,000 admissions in England - up by two thirds in four years - prompting a warning to older people about their drinking habits.
The data was revealed by the Department of Health in response to a Parliamentary question by the Liberal Democrats and covers any condition or problem where alcohol has contributed to the admission.
In 2002/03 admissions for over 65s were just over 197,000 but by 2006/07 were 323,595 and amounted to 40% of the total 800,000 admissions.
Alcohol expert Professor Martin Plant from the University of the West of England said cheap alcohol played a big part in encouraging people to drink more, including those in retirement.
He said: "The over 65s are often more frail and vulnerable than other age groups and yet their drinking habits do not get much attention."
Lib Dem MP Tom Brake said: "These figures are deeply worrying, and ministers must take action to tackle this new and disturbing trend."
Gordon Lishman of Age Concern said a shift in emphasis was needed and added: "The government's efforts to reduce drinking should be targeting older age groups as well as younger people."
The Department of Health acknowledged the level of admissions was unacceptable and stressed that tackling harmful drinking was a government priority.
Alcohol Concern said social isolation, bereavement and a variety of social factors can play a part in an older person developing alcohol misuse.
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