Health and social effects of alcohol on older persons: a concern for our Swedish member SPF

A new report from IOGT-NTO (Independent Swedish organisation which focuses on the effects of alcohol and narcotics at both individual and societal level) in collaboration with the Swedish Society of Medicine, The Centre for Education and Research on Addiction (CERA) at the University of Gothenburg, the Swedish Society of Nursing and the Foundation Ansvar för Framtiden shows that alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms are increasing among older persons.

Alcohol&OlderPeople_2019_cover The report addresses the older people increased sensitivity to the effects of alcohol which, in combination with the ageing process, may increase the risk of disease and accidents, even at relatively low consumption levels. It describes the relationship between alcohol and various diseases and problems from which older persons may suffer, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, and cancer. Alcohol is also associated with a number of risks when combined with various prescription medicines, for instance it raises the fall risks. Last but not least the report considers a number of health and societal challenges associated with alcohol consumption such as depression, suicide, road safety but also intimate violence and more broadly elder abuse.

In terms of recommendation, the report suggests that

  • older persons who choose to drink should not exceed one drink per day or less on average to reduce health-related risks, and no more than 2 drinks on any day.
  • Those who don’t drink or who drink occasionally should not begin to drink, reinitiate drinking, or drink more frequently on the basis of health considerations.
  • In addition, no consumption is generally preferable among those with certain conditions including liver disease, peptic ulcer disease, cardiac arrhythmias, are driving, have cognitive difficulties, a history of falls or poor balance, or who take psychoactive or sedating medications.

This report has also been developed with the help and support of older persons’ organisations in Sweden, including SPF, AGE Swedish member. They were consulted during the preparation of the report, they worked hand in hand with IOTG-NTO on the communication messages to be addressed to older persons and supported the whole dissemination effort. More importantly, the future plans is for IOGT-NTO to keep in contact with SPF and other organisations of older persons, to raise the findings of the report in the many municipal councils of older persons that have been set up by Swedish local authorities. This to make sure that the findings are taken into account locally and help improve the welfare services provided by local authorities.

The full report is available here:

EN –

SE –

Article published in the SPF magazine:

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