In Germany, alcohol harm in older people is on the rise. Over a decade from 2007 to 2017 the number of older people between 65 to 84 years treated for acute alcohol intoxication increased by two thirds.
The Kaufmännische Krankenkasse (KKH, a health insurance) reports:
- More than 355,500 older people over 65 years suffer due to alcohol harm.
- The increase in acute alcohol intoxication was even higher for men. Among the 70 to 74-year-olds, it was around 95% and among the 80- to 84-year-olds more than double.
- More than 34% of men and about 18% of women between the ages of 65 and 79 abuse alcohol.
Health insurers know that alcohol problems among older people are difficult to identify and diagnose. The issue is often disregarded by general practitioners and healthcare staff. Frequently, the consequences of alcohol problems get confused with sleep problems, disorientation, unclear speech or neglect of basic hygiene. Alcohol has a stronger effect on older people because the human body has less water in older age.
The report Alcohol and Older people by IOGT-NTO suggests the increased sensitivity to alcohol in old age combined with the ageing process can increase risk of disease and accidents. For example alcohol increases risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, and cancer for older people. Further alcohol heightens risk of falls and injuries, and mental health problems with old age.