Alcohol–now there is a tricky word to open with, and for some people, it could be one of the most difficult conversations they will ever have.
Contrary to popular belief, the UK’s real booze problem does not involve inebriated youths binge-drinking at weekends. Instead, it lies with the less visibly drunken mature adults who regularly knock back more than is good for them behind closed doors.
When 1 in 5 people aged over 50 think that the majority of people with alcohol problems cannot recover, and almost half of those think that people with alcohol problems have themselves to blame, how do we talk about how much alcohol we or others are drinking without bringing up a subject that for many is still shrouded in shame? After all, aren’t people entitled to make their own choices? Sian Johnson, Royal Voluntary Service Manager discusses this thorny issue and what you can do about it.
Life is full of choices but like anything else that can affect our health and wellbeing, it’s preferable to make choices based on up to date knowledge and guidance. Alcohol is still very much socially acceptable in many communities and in some it is even seen as a status symbol, so it’s important to make informed choices as we age.
- People aged 16-24 are now drinking less than previously, whereas middle aged people are the group who consume the most alcohol and are drinking more than in the past.
- Drink driving convictions are dropping across all age ranges except in the over 55’s
- Drinking above recommended limits is one of the risk factors that contributes to stroke, heart and liver disease, cancer and dementia
- Changing finances, fewer opportunities to socialise, loss of primary relationship through separation or bereavement, loss of sense of purpose and retirement are the five most frequently reported reasons for those who were drinking more now than in the past
What can you do?
This is where Resilient not Reliant, a pilot project run by the Royal Voluntary Service and funded by the North Leeds CCG through Leeds Community Foundation, can help. The group works with people aged 50+ in North Leeds to provide advice around alcohol use. As well as non-judgemental and appropriate advice, the project offers access to social activities, creative groups, exploration of hobbies and support to get into volunteering, all with the aim of tackling some of the reasons why people may be drinking more. Essentially the project supports people to live the independent lives they want to lead.
Recent events include the Older Persons Celebration Event for International Day for Older People. Social activity groups include the Paper Craft Group, Drawing group and the Rebels with a Cause film and music club. Future projects include a model making group, a reading aloud group and summer trips out.
Resilient not Reliant offers presentations and ‘pub quiz’ style entertainment for staff teams, front line workers, service users social activities and community and voluntary groups. Presentations can range from an information stall to a 5 minute conversation to an hour long training session. And all aim to raise awareness around alcohol for older people and are delivered in a fun and engaging way.
If you are aged 50 or over and live in North Leeds, please get in touch with Resilient not Reliant to hear more about volunteer opportunities, getting out and about more in your local community or if you want to talk with someone about anything to do with alcohol for yourself or another person.