Government figures that were released last month have revealed a worrying trend amongst retired, middle class female professionals who are turning to alcohol after stepping down from successful careers.
Although the number of older men receiving treatment for alcohol problems is still significantly higher than women, the gap between the sexes has now halved and a shocking 65% increase in the number of women over pension age receiving treatment for alcoholism has been witnessed.
The statistics, which were release by Public health England showed that 2,376 women over 60 started treatment for drink-related problems in the year to March 2014. This compares to 1,436 cases that were reported over the same period just five years earlier.
Worryingly, experts have said that the full extent of the problem could be even higher than these figures suggest because many may be keeping their drinking habits hidden.
It is thought that one of the reasons why these numbers have increased so significantly is because supermarket home delivery services have made it easier than ever for people to access alcohol in the first place and secondly, to ensure that drink problems go unnoticed.
Dr Paul McLaren, a consultant psychiatrist, asserted that the scale of the problem among older women has gone unnoticed for too long.
“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. Retirement, bereavement and loneliness can increase a person’s drive for alcohol. But the dangers of alcohol are increased among older drinkers - particularly because of medication, frailty and other health problems.”
Healthcare professionals have expressed concerns that because older women don’t necessarily fit the stereotypes people hold about alcohol misuse and because they often keep their drinking hidden, that there just aren’t enough services out there to offer them the help they need.
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