A new study examining the drinking habits of people over 45 has found that older men who are both single highly educated and wealthy may be drinking too much.
The study, which had more than 4,500 participants, looked at partnership status, health and employments in relation to drinking habits. It found that most people tend to cut down on drinking as they get older. For instance, the study found that women who lost a partner after age 45 were likely to reduce their drinking. People still in a partnership also cut down on drinking, although to a lesser extent.
The study concluded that while most groups cut their drinking as they age, wealthy single men do not. They believe this is because these men are more likely to go to social events where drinking is the norm. These men also have higher disposable incomes to use on alcohol.
Study participants who had poor health were the most likely to scale back their drinking. This is in contradiction to the popularly held belief that poor health and drinking go hand in hand. The researchers believe that poor health restricts people’s ability to go out and procure alcohol. They also think that people in poor health are more likely to receive and comply with medical advice telling them to limit their alcohol consumption.
The authors of this study hope the findings will help better target programs designed to help those with alcohol abuse problems. Professor Clare Holdsworth, professor of social geography at Keel University and the lead researcher said, "Over the Christmas period many people consume more alcohol. Our findings suggest that the group most at risk of heavy drinking in later life are older single men with high levels of education and above average wealth. Suggesting that health organisations target this group is not necessarily straightforward as these men might not identify their drinking as problem behaviour. Also this group are less likely to have poor health in the short term, hence the need for intervention might not be apparent.”