Prof Margda Waern, psychiatrist and professor at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg. This has been re-blogged from the British Geriatrics Society blog
Health benefits related to mild to moderate alcohol consumption include better cardiac and cerebrovascular health, decreased risk of dementia and improved quality of life. This might help to explain why we are nowadays less likely to discontinue drinking as we age. There may, however, be a down side. Over-consumption of alcohol can increase risk of cognitive impairment, self-neglect and falls. Considering this, it is surprising that we know so little about the extent to which older people engage in potentially harmful drinking.
I was part of a group of researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden who set out to study at-risk alcohol consumption in older people. We did this using data from two long-running surveys on health and ageing: theH70 study and the Prospective Population Study of Women. We compared at-risk drinking in two groups of 75-year-olds: 303 persons born in 1901, and 753 born three decades later in 1930. Participants were asked about their intake of beer, wine and spirits; at-risk drinking was defined as ≥ 100g/week (corresponding roughly to more than 2 drinks/day). We found at-risk drinking in 19% of men who took part in the mid-seventies study, compared with 27% of those who participated in 2005. There was a tenfold increase in at-risk drinking in women, from 0.6 % in 1976 to 10% in 2005.
We concluded that alcohol consumption has changed markedly in 75 year olds, especially in women. It is important to note that the study was set in Scandinavia, where gender differences may be less pronounced than in other parts of Europe. Studies are needed in varied settings in order to evaluate the health implications of changing trends in alcohol consumption in later life.
Dr Howard A. Fink of the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis and colleagues conducted a study of 5,994 community-dwelling men over the age of 65 who were enrolled in the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS) study in six locations across the United States. 5,125 participated in a second study visit and answered questions on stressful life events in the prior year. A further subset of 4,981 men reported complete data on falls for one year after the second visit. Continue reading →
The September issue of Age and Ageing, the journal of the British Geriatrics Society is out now. A full table of contents is available here, with editorials, research papers, reviews, short reports, case reports book reviews and more. Hot topics this issue include:
Shock absorbing floors and injury prevention
Alcohol consumption in older people
Osteoarthritis and falls fracture risk assessment
The needs of older prisoners
The Editor’s Pick can be read here. This issue’s free access papers are:
Falls in older adults are common and the rate is three times higher in people in care homes than in those living in their own homes. Falls in care homes are associated with considerable mortality and morbidity-hip fractures are significantly more prevalent than in community-dwelling older people, with rates in female care home residents estimated as high as 50.8 hip fractures per 1000 person-years.
Although extensive research has been carried out into interventions to reduce falls in community-dwelling older people, there is limited evidence of the effectiveness of such measures within care homes. Oliver concluded that it makes sense to identify risk factors for the individual so that they can be reversed or reduced where possible. However the protocols used to perform risk assessments for falls in care homes are often not validated, vary from care home to care home, and do not necessarily trigger individually-tailored interventions. These assessments invariably attempt to stratify risk but because each individual within the care home is already at high risk, opportunities for interventions to reduce the risk of falling are often missed.