Alcohol Concern

Improving support for older people with alcohol problems

This project will investigate heavy drinking among older people, and will provide advice and guidance to improve the quality of services available to this group.

history Campaign has now closed

It ran from to




  • Community Support & DevelopmentCommunity Support & Development
  • Health/WellbeingHealth/Wellbeing


  • Older PeopleOlder People



An increasing number of older people are drinking alcohol at levels that can profoundly damage their quality of life and impair physical and mental health. According to the 2005 General Household Survey, approximately 644,000 men and 372,000 women in the UK aged 65 and over drink at potentially harmful and hazardous levels. This figure in increasing over time and the current heavy drinking among younger age groups suggests that the proportion of older people drinking at higher levels is likely to continue to increase in the future. Despite the large numbers of older drinkers, our research has shown that people over 60 make up less than 10% of those who access alcohol treatment. The proposed project aims to widen older drinkers’ access to effective alcohol treatment services by: • Interviewing older people and their families to identify the main factors that affect their ability and willingness to engage with treatment services • Investigating how practitioners in health and social care settings identify and assess older people who drink heavily • Working with services (in both the alcohol and older people’s sectors) to understand how they address alcohol misuse among older people and the policies and referral procedures they have in place This project will provide Alcohol Concern with a strong evidence base from which we can begin to raise awareness of alcohol misuse among older people, improve the quality of care they receive and campaign for improvements in the support available to them. We will: develop an awareness-raising programme for older people about alcohol, based on the needs identified by older people; provide a toolkit and training modules to practitioners in the alcohol and older people’s sectors to enable them to better identify and support older drinkers; raise awareness among service commissioners and policy makers of the need to prioritise support for older drinkers. We expect the project to achieve the following outcomes: • older people will be able express their thoughts about this issue and the kind of services they need • health and social care professionals, service commissioners and policymakers have an increased awareness of the issue of older people’s drinking • older people and their carers have an improved awareness of alcohol misuse issues and treatment • service providers and commissioners will understand more about how older drinkers’ needs can best be met In the longer term we aim that this work will lead to an increase in the number of older drinkers receiving the support they need and an improvement in the quality of this support.