Alcohol and Older People

The research report, compiled by an international research team, addresses the health and social effects of alcohol on the elderly in the short and long term. The report presents alcohol policy measures and highlights national initiatives aimed at reducing alcohol consumption.


The report addresses the elderly’s increased sensitivity to the effects of alcohol, which, in combination with the aging process, may increase the risk of disease and accidents, even at relatively low consumption levels. The main reason for the increased sensitivity of older people to the immediate and long-term effects of alcohol is partly due to physiological and physical changes but also medical factors.

The risks of alcohol can be divided into two types:

  • risks that come from the total volume that a person consumes over time
  • risks that come from the amount consumed at one single occasion (for example, falls or traffic accidents)

There are substantial increases in the percentage of 75-year-olds drinking at hazardous levels. Among women, hazardous drinkers increased from 1 to 10 percent between 1977 and 2006. Among men, this proportion increased from 19 to 27 percent.