Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist April 2013 Contents Australian Pharmacist April 2013 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd. 37
consumption. A focus in the research was
to identify factors that lead to increased
use of alcohol and factors that constrain
consumption in different settings.
The pilot study, 'An exploration of
how social context and type of living
arrangement are linked to alcohol
consumption amongst older Australians',
involved a questionnaire and qualitative
interviews with 42 older Australians living
in the greater Perth metropolitan area.
The study found that 30% of participants
were drinking above the NHMRC
guidelines and 25% of men were
consuming alcohol at levels which placed
them at risk of short-term harm at least
once a month, suggesting the current
drinking guidelines need to be promoted
more effectively to older Australians.
Dr Wilkinson said results from the
in-depth interviews highlight that alcohol
serves an important social function
for older people and is viewed as an
enjoyable part of life, but there were
also indications that this demographic
has a greater appreciation of the social
and financial costs of drinking, such as
drink driving. Personal health concerns
associated with alcohol did not feature as
a constraining factor.
In a media release Dr Dare stated:
'Participants tended to focus on risky
drinking in terms of behaviour which
would lead to harm to others without
considering the potential consequences
to their own health. This is significant
from a policy perspective and suggests
we need better targeted health
promotion messages that are more
reflective of the drinking practices of
The study was funded by the Foundation
for Alcohol Research and Education
(FARE). Its key findings included:
• Most people interviewed in both the
retirement village and home setting
consumed alcohol five to seven days
• 30% of the people interviewed were
drinking at levels that placed them at
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greater risk of long term harms, while
25% of men were drinking at levels that
placed them at risk of short term harms
at least once a month.
• There were no significant differences
in the drinking behaviours of older
people residing in retirement villages,
when compared with those residing in
a home setting.
• Most men (56%) and women (68%)
interviewed showed no evidence of
problem drinking using the CAGE
instrument (Cut down on drinking,
Annoyances with criticisms about
drinking, Guilt about drinking, and
using alcohol as an Eye opener).
• Many older people employed strategies
to regulate their alcohol consumption
including limiting alcohol if driving, not
drinking alone, allocating alcohol-free
days and not drinking alcohol
• Most participants were not concerned
with the drinking of older Australians
but indicated they were concerned
about young people's risky drinking.
What pharmacists can do
Pharmacists and other health
professionals can help identify alcoholism
and at-risk drinking in the ageing through
training and collaboration.
A report by AD Derry stated that
training and awareness among health
practitioners was important to change
attitudes and identify alcohol misuse in
'Good liaison between services is
essential for promoting continuity of care,'
Life changes associated
with alcohol misuse in
Emotional and social problems
• Loss of friends and social status
• Loss of occupation
• Impaired ability to function
• Family conflict
• Reduced self-esteem
• Physical disabilities
• Chronic pain
• Sensory deficits
• Reduced mobility
• Cognitive impairment
• Impaired self-care
• Reduced coping skills
• Altered financial circumstances
• Dislocation from previous
Source: Alcohol use disorders in elderly
people: fact or fiction? by Karim Dar.
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