Health campaigners warn against gifting alcohol to the elderly this Christmas

Health campaigners warn against gifting alcohol to the elderly this Christmas

Relatives are being warned against giving bottles of alcohol to the over-55s this Christmas, as it has been found that excessive drinking is becoming a problem in the elderly. Health campaigners are recommending gifting ‘their company’ instead.

Those aged between 55 and 64 are now drinking more than any other group in England and Scotland, according to the Calling Time report. It was put together by the Drink Wise, Age Well programme and highlights a harmful trend.

It is the first time in recent history that this demographic has outdrank all others and many people don’t realise it’s an issue. Harmful drinking is often associated with younger adults and binge drinkers, but that is no longer the case.

Many of the other age groups are now spending less time in the pub and more time at the gym, or in other healthy pursuits. Pensioners, however, are increasingly drinking at home and out of sight, meaning it often goes unnoticed.

Baroness Hayter, vice chairwoman of the all-party parliamentary group on the dangers of alcohol, spoke to the Sunday Times. She gave the following advice to family members: “At a personal level, this may mean replacing the bottle of booze as a Christmas present to our older relatives.

“If loneliness or lack of company is the most important thing, then give them your company, don’t give them booze.”

In a survey filled out anonymously by 152 medical practitioners, it was found that many people believe the elderly are too old to change and therefore it's not worth trying to coerce them into better habits. This view was exacerbated by those unwilling to deprive them of ‘their only pleasure’.

Of course, most people will go and visit their elderly relatives at Christmas and it can feel strange to arrive without a gift. Good alternatives to a bottle of alcohol include framed photos of the family, perfume or aftershave and plants to help brighten up their rooms.