Recommendations for Alcohol Use in Elderly are Too General

Research has shown that moderate alcohol consumption can provide physical and mental health benefits in adults of all ages. But a new report from the The Royal College of Psychiatrists of London has some experts worried about the new recommendations. The report was designed to provide information and statistical guidelines for mental health and medical professionals, to use when determining if an elderly client is at risk for adverse effects from misuse of alcohol. Because the report does not take into consideration specific age groups or health conditions, and the only criteria for participating in the study was that a person must be over age 65, the recommendations in the report may be misconstrued and can provide more harm than good, according to the reviewers at the The International Forum on Alcohol Research.

The report did not address the benefit that moderate alcohol consumption can have on coronary heart disease, diabetes, dementia, osteoporosis or stroke. The reviewers fear that healthy moderate drinkers in this age group may decrease or stop their consumption altogether, thus reducing the preventive measures they are currently taking. Additionally, the reviewers note that as people age, their risk for coronary problems increases dramatically and this segment of the population needs the benefits of light drinking more than any other segment. Recent research has begun to appear that shows moderate drinking can also help protect people from the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia, decreasing their chances of developing these illnesses by as much as 50%. A similar link has been found with moderate alcohol use and other neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. The reviewers point out that there is even evidence that moderate drinking can increase the life span of men and women by several years. They emphasize that the recommendations in the report may not be in the best interest of every person.

© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • L.A.D.


    July 1st, 2011 at 9:29 PM

    If experts are worried about how these recommendations will be construed they need not be implemented. It’s as simple as that.

    It’s up to the patient’s primary physician to make clear to the patient if the recommendations are not applicable in their case.

  • pennant


    July 1st, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    alcohol is good in moderate quantities-I’ve heard this many a times.but does that mean you SHOULD consume alcohol? no! why risk addiction and backfire when there are many other substitutes for good health?!!!

  • Tony.V


    July 2nd, 2011 at 4:53 AM

    Why do they miss the specifics in these kind of studies that are meant to provide an accurate result and could well shape the medical advice for so many people?!

  • addy godwin

    addy godwin

    July 2nd, 2011 at 8:36 AM

    Personally I think that alcohol is bad and the sooner that someone can rid it from their lives then the better off they will be. How can it ever add anything positive to life?

  • dina peterman

    dina peterman

    July 2nd, 2011 at 7:59 PM

    Is there really such a thing as healthy drinking? Beer is nothing but calories and alcohol by itself is a poison that will ruin your life and wallet if you refuse to drink responsibly.

    I find it hard to believe there truly are benefits to the demon drink.

  • Tamsin Irvine

    Tamsin Irvine

    July 2nd, 2011 at 8:53 PM

    @dina peterman: Oh, it’s true alright. A man who lived to be over 100 attributed his long life to loving his brother and a glass of wine every day.

    Beer has no health benefits, but wine drunk in moderation can indeed be good for your health.

  • Sandra


    July 3rd, 2011 at 8:20 AM

    Old people tend to get depressed a lot anyway.
    Isn’t alcohol a depressant? How could drinking be good for them, especially given the amounts of medications that they take too? Sounds kind of dangerous to me for numerous reasons.

  • Hillary Royce

    Hillary Royce

    July 3rd, 2011 at 10:52 PM

    @Tamsin Irvine–Even so, the benefits are minimal compared to a having a healthy diet and taking care of yourself physically with moderate exercise. Seniors have weaker bodies than younger adults, and I feel they should just avoid alcohol altogether rather than tempt fate.

  • Ron Benedict

    Ron Benedict

    July 3rd, 2011 at 11:10 PM

    @Hillary–A benefit is still a benefit isn’t it? Moderate drinking isn’t all that bad for you.

    You know, misinformation is where problems that are the most destructive stem from. In Korea, some honestly and falsely believe that a running fan in your room can kill you. Next time you talk with a Korean, ask them about that. They will confirm it. My point being urban myths are everywhere.

  • Janna


    July 4th, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    Light drinking. . . health benefits.. . the answers are different every day. How do we ever know what the right amounts are for us? They would all have to be so individualized, there can never be a broad scope answer that will work for us all.

  • Andy Annihilator

    Andy Annihilator

    July 4th, 2011 at 11:45 PM

    It’s only obvious that when a general note says moderate drinking is good for your health that you consider your health and disorders and things and only then follow that advice not just follow it blindly…!

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Title   Content   Author is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on