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Elderly 'at risk from alcohol'

20th June 2006

Today's elderly people are drinking considerably more than previous generations, and as such are at a higher risk of health problems, according to a new report.

An independent expert group commissioned by NHS Scotland found that many older people are drinking beyond the safe limits, despite the fact that their bodies are less able to cope with alcohol than younger people.

Drinking too much can lead to a variety of health problems for the elderly, including falls and liver damage. It can also influence the effectiveness of any medication they are on.

As a result NHS Scotland is recommending that the current advice of a weekly alcohol intake for men of 21 units and 14 for women, be lowered for older people to encourage them to drink less.

Dr Laurence Gruer, director of public health science at NHS Health Scotland, said: "There is a risk that if older people were to stick too strictly to the existing limits then they might unknowingly be overdoing it."

He stressed: "Older people need to realise that they should be drinking less."