Heavy Alcohol Consumption Could Increase Serious Diseases for Older People

 16th Feb 2016

WineEnjoying a small drink with an evening meal is commonplace in many households in the UK; however, excessive alcohol consumption is widely known to increase the risk of developing serious diseases conditions later in life.

Diseases such as throat cancer, as well as liver and heart disease can be potentially life threatening and are all examples of illnesses of which alcohol can be a major causal factor.

Guideline Amounts

Currently, it is advised adults should not exceed 14 units of alcohol a week to avoid significantly increasing their risk - this is the equivalent to six pints of beer or 10 small glasses of wine a week which is already a considerable amount for the average person.

However, 14 units is still considered “low risk” rather than safe as alcohol in any amount is processed as a poison by the body. Furthermore, alcohol can also be detrimental to the brain and has been known to cause brain damage as well as the onset of various mental illnesses.

Alcohol and the Mind

Mental health is often left in the shadow of biological health issues. However, with 11,373 cases of mental and behaviour disorders caused from alcohol use compared with just 9,890 related to liver disease, the statistics shows how this issue is unequivocally important.

A condition known as Korsakoff syndrome is becoming increasingly prevalent among people over the age of 60. This is caused from alcohol induced brain damage and is an incurable condition involving acute loss of memory, a symptom which is strongly linked to long term drinking habits.

Currently, there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of alcohol consumed by people over the age of 65 which has caused more and more to be administered into hospital.

In an age of tight budgets and reduced availability in hospitals, this presents a serious issue to the NHS who already tend to many cases of alcohol abuse, particularly among females aged 15 to 19, with hospital visits for alcohol poisoning as much as doubling in the last six years.

Due to lifestyles, retirement and the increased availability of alcohol, 30% of men aged between 65 - 74 and 22% of women between 55 - 64 have been found to consume alcohol in excess of the recommended guidelines.

Final Thoughts

Frequent drinking occurring at home coupled with a multitude of over health issues broadcasted regularly by the media have rendered this issue invisible to the majority of the public who are not directly affected, despite its severity and magnitude.

This not only poses a threat to the health of the people involved, but it is also extremely problematic for both the family members of those affected and the organisations who provide care for physical and mental health conditions.


Encompass Dorset provide care services for people with enduring mental health illnesses and learning difficulties.

To find out how we can help you or a loved one, click here.

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