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Rise in elderly being treated for drink problems

9th January 2012

Data compiled by the NHS Information Centre has suggested that the number of older people in London looking for help with drinking problems has increased.

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The figures, which were gathered for BBC Inside Out London, showed that over the last decade there has been a 163% increase in hospital admissions relating to alcohol for people aged over 65.

The number of admissions is going up more quickly for over-65s than for any other age group and only the north-east of England has more hospital admissions than the capital.

Prof Tony Rao, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: "London is a bit of a pressure point. Within London there are areas like Hammersmith and Fulham, Southwark and Camden with even higher rates of death [than other areas of England] from alcohol-related illnesses."

The Royal College of Psychiatrists claimed doctors are failing to spot elderly people with alcohol issues because of time pressures, lack of knowledge and the fact that older people are less likely to request their help.

Dr Claire Gerado, the chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "I think we focus far too much on the young ones.

"We do that because the young ones are more visible - they vomit in streets. You don't tend to see a retired 70-year-old bank manager vomiting in the street.

"But it's just as much of a problem for people drinking at the other end of life as it is for the young ones." 

A NHS study showed older people had more likelihood of drinking every day than people of a younger age and they often considered the subject of alcoholism out-of-bounds.

Sean Dudley, of charity Foundation 66, which treats older people with alcohol issues, said 40% of people who came to them had never requested help before. 

 

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