This study looked at how at-risk drinking among older adults changes over time.
Researchers compared drinking patterns among 2,268 Swedish 70-year-olds (932 men, 1336 women) during four periods of time as part of a study on health and aging. The four time periods were: 1976-77 (n=393), 1992-93 (n=248), 2000-02 (n=458), and 2014-16 (n=1169).
Significantly Higher Levels of Drinking
Health-care professionals conducted face-to-face interviews with study participants and weekly alcohol consumption was estimated for the previous month.
At-risk consumption was defined as =100 g alcohol/week, which roughly corresponded to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s definition of heavy consumption for individuals over 65 years old.
More recent groups of 70-year-olds in Sweden reported significantly higher levels of drinking than previous groups of 70-year-olds. Although men were consistently heavier drinkers than women, the percentage increase over time was greater among women.
45% of Men Are At-Risk Drinkers
The proportion of at-risk consumers among men increased from 16.1 percent in 1976-77 to 45.3 percent in 2014-16; among women, the proportion of at-risk consumers increased from 0.5 percent in 1976-77 to 24.3 percent in 2014-16.
Wine consumption increased in both genders between 2000-02 and 2014-16, while beer consumption increased among men between 2000-02 and 2014-16.
The researchers recommended both public health and clinical initiatives that target older men and women, and strategies that support responsible alcohol consumption later in life.