Western Daily Press: Drinking in the joys of ageing gracefully
Home from work, shoes off, telly on, pour yourself a drink. Sound familiar?
Thousands upon thousands of us like a drink. For many "Wine o'clock" signals the start of a relaxing evening at home, or time to get ready to go out. Having a drink is fun, sociable, and relaxing.
The trouble is it seems that many of us are simply drinking too much. And it's not just the young. Our growing elderly population is also having trouble managing its alcohol intake.
In fact, experts today warn that the West Country is facing a ticking "time bomb" if it cannot successfully tackle a growing drinking problem in the elderly.
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It is estimated that one in five older men and one in ten older women drink enough to harm themselves, a rise of 40 per cent in men and double the number of women over the past 20 years. With a quarter of the population in the South West expected to be aged 65 or over by 2033, experts are concerned it could put an increased strain on the West's already over-burdened health service.
Perhaps this should come as no surprise. Today's elderly were young in decades when alcohol was becoming more fashionable, more available and more affordable. Alcohol is far more likely to be in any of our shopping baskets than ever before. Alcohol is the drug around which many of our social lives revolve. Whether it be one glass or half a bottle, a couple of cans or a crate, a single or a double, there are few occasions when alcohol is not around.
And hooray to that, because for many of us, there are few things more pleasurable in life than a pint before the match, a glass of wine with a meal, or a gathering in the pub with friends or family.
While many of us enjoy it, the effects on our health of drinking too much are not appreciated, hence today's "timebomb" warning from experts.
Drinkers who are regularly drinking above recommended limits often end up requiring complex and expensive NHS care. So when we joke: "I shouldn't really, should I?" we probably shouldn't.
What we should probably do is to think about what and when we are drinking. Awareness of the health effects of alcohol, especially when consumed in large amounts, is the key.
Being aware will make sure alcohol remains an enjoyable, fun, and healthy part of our lives