Alcohol and seniors: a sensitive topic

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The relationship between seniors and alcohol is a primary concern.

L'alcool et les ainés

Seniors and drinking

Seniors are not a homogenous group. As with any age group, the effects of drinking on older people vary according to age, sex, socioeconomic situation and other demographic factors.


Unlike previous generations, Baby Boomers in Québec grew up in a culture where drinking was very socially acceptable. The proportion of seniors who drink a lot, and perhaps too much, may therefore increase over the coming years.


As for abusive drinking, 15.7% of older men in Québec say they have more than 14 drinks a week, compared to only 3.8% of older women.

Socioeconomic status

According to the two studies mentioned above, the people who drink the most are the ones with the most money. Significantly more high-income Canadians (27.4%) say they have exceeded the limits recommended by the Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines, compared to 22.3% of those with an average income and 20.5% of low-income individuals.

In Québec, a higher proportion of people with above average incomes have more than 14 drinks a week.

Identifying drinking problems

In Canada, 11% to 14% of seniors drink more than the limit recommended by the Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines. Last year, 2.8% of seniors said they had a least one problem related to their drinking.

Drinking problems are difficult to identify

Seniors often suffer from various ailments that are caused by abusive drinking. Such things as a general decline in health, introversion, memory loss, depression, insomnia, falls, digestive problems, loss of appetite and anxiety are more frequently diagnosed as the result of an illness or simply due the aging process.

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