Don’t Drink and Dance if you are Over 50

I have often encountered amusing people on my trips into town, however this mornings chance meeting with an elderly chap who was attempting to perform the Haka in the style of the New Zealand national rugby team in the middle of a busy pedestrian shopping precinct was quite unique!

Sadly it appeared that he was not simply an ageing street performer, but that judging by the strong smell of alcohol and the can of beer in his hand, he was in fact very merry and all this before 10am. Despite the initially high entertainment value the spectacle that had initially amused me ended up making me feel deeply sad.

Don't Drink and Dance


There have been a number of news stories recently regarding pension aged people who have gained the nick name ‘saga-louts’, and some of this behaviour has been attributed to drinking. The drinking habits of people now in their 50’s 60’s 70’s and 80’s has been put down to the drop in the price of alcohol 30 – 40 years ago and the change back then in general attitudes. It would appear from reading many different news articles that people aged 60 and over are more likely to drink alcohol on a daily basis than younger groups. It is increasingly commonplace for us to be drinking at home and, with an older pre Face Book generation less likely to speak publicly about our personal issues, we are being quite discrete about it

Alcohol Effects Worsen with Age

It does not seem to be completely understood why, according to a study carried out by a Florida University, but reasonable measures of alcohol have a worse effect on older drinkers than their more youthful counterparts. Maybe this is due to a slower metabolism, but according to About Health “even moderate amounts of alcohol can cause measurable impairment for those over age 50” and that the denial of that impairment also seems to worsen with age.

I am sure that my own occasional drink is unlikely to lead me to public displays such as those I encountered earlier today from the Haka chap in town…but I think from now on after having perhaps enjoyed a glass of wine or two over lunch, I may sit for a while before I attempt my journey home.

The Serious Footnote…

If you are concerned about your own alcohol consumption, or that of a loved one, I would recommend you read the well written and informative leaflet Alcohol and Older People published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. It is free and you can link to it here

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