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Detecting Alcohol Problems In Older Adults: Can We Do Better?

Christine Taylor, Katy A Jones, Tom Dening

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Alcohol problems in older adults aged 65 years or over, in the United Kingdom and internationally, have risen steadily over the past decade. These are a common but underdiagnosed and under-recognized problem. A UK survey in 2008 found that 21% of men and 10% of women aged 65 years and over reported drinking more than four and three units of alcohol respectively on at least one day per week (National Health Service Information Centre, 2010). A recent Royal College of Psychiatrists Report (2011) cited research that showed there has been a rise in the number drinking over weekly recommended limits by 60% in men and 100% in women between 1990 and 2006 with the number of people aged over 65 years requiring treatment for a substance misuse problem, set to more than double between 2001 and 2020, all of which points to a significant public health problem both now and in the future (National Health Service Information Centre, 2009).