Official figures indicate that a growing number of women over the age of 60 are seeking treatment for alcoholism, which experts partly attribute to a growing culture of stay-at-home drinking, the Daily Mail reports. Researchers have found that one in 10 women in alcohol treatment programs are over-60.
Public Health England statistics reveal that there has been a 65 percent rise in the number of older women treated for alcoholism in the last five years, according to the article. It is believed that that the driving forces of elderly alcoholism among women are loneliness, boredom and isolation. In England, where for years the pubs where male-centric, experts believe that it has become more socially acceptable for women to drink at home.
In 2013/14, there were 2,736 women over 60 that sought treatment for alcohol dependency, a figure which nearly doubled from 1,436 in 2008/09. Women over 60 now make up nine percent of newly diagnosed alcoholics – up from six percent. The number of women between the ages of 18 and 29 that were treated for alcoholism went down from 18 to 14 percent in the same time period.
Home delivery of alcohol seems to have played an important role in the increase of senior drinking. “I have seen many examples of alcohol being delivered to older people who are too damaged or impaired by it to go out and buy it themselves,” says psychiatrist Dr Paul McLaren, a consultant for the Priory Group which was responsible for analyzing the statistics. “So they don’t even have to leave home to buy alcohol – supermarket delivery services will bring it straight to their door.”
McLaren points out that, “A common pattern is for regular drinkers, who have had their consumption constrained by the structure of working, tipping into harmful drinking in retirement. Many of the women I see are retired professionals who never had issues with alcohol in the past”.
Historically, the Government’s public health work has been geared toward young people, despite the fact that the National Health Service (NHS) spends 13 times as much on treating alcoholics in the 55-to-74 age bracket than among 16 to 24s, the article notes.
“Overall the number of people drinking regularly is declining. But that trend has not been replicated in older women, who are stubbornly continuing to drink every day”, said Dr. Sarah Jarvis, a London GP.
While the focus today has been on women over age 60 in Great Britain, women in the United States face the same kind of loneliness and boredom brought on by retirement, divorce or death of their spouse.