The NSW Seniors Festival, the southern hemisphere's largest celebration of seniors, returns in February with an extensive 12-day calendar of live performances, workshops, talks and much more. It is an opportunity to celebrate together and provide seniors with a range of programs across the state to empower and support them in leading happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.
Adopting a moderate approach to alcohol intake is crucial to a healthy lifestyle, and this becomes increasingly important as we age. Older people have an increased risk of alcohol-related harm due to changing physiology and a reduced ability to metabolise alcohol. This increases risk of alcohol-associated harms such as falls, car accidents, suicides and mental health issues, chronic diseases and cancer.
Australia's population is ageing, with older Australians (aged 65 and over) representing 16% of the total population. This trend is expected to continue into the future, making it more important than ever to start a conversation about healthy attitudes to alcohol.
Snapshot: seniors and alcohol use
Source: National Drug Strategy Household Survey (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)
- While the National Drug Strategy Household Survey has revealed an overall decline in alcohol use among Australians aged 14 years and over, this is being driven by younger persons
- People aged 70 and over were the most likely to drink daily, at 12.6%. By comparison, only 1.2% of Australians aged 20-29 were daily drinkers
- Although young people were more likely to exceed levels of single occasion risk at least monthly, these figures have declined from 57% in 2001 to 41% in 2019. Over the time period the rate for the 60 to 69-year age group increased from 12.8% to 17.4%
- Single occasion risky drinking also increased among other cohorts of older persons, with 27% of people in their 50s and 8.8% of those over 70 exceeding the risk level at least monthly
- In 2019, 25.1% of Australians aged 65-74 and 18.1% of Australians aged 75+ met the criteria for moderate or high-risk levels of drinking. Need guidance?
Breaking the habit
Concerned about the drinking habits of yourself or a loved one? Here are some tips to help break the habit:
Know your standards
According to research from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), only 53% of Australians aged 50 and over were aware of the Australian Alcohol Guidelines
. These guidelines, produced by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), inform Australians of the health risks of drinking alcohol. It is recommended that adults drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day. Learn more about standard drinks here
.Assess your risk
Unsure if you're drinking too much? The Alcohol Assessment Risk Tool, on the Your Room website, is a simple online tool which analyses and assesses the risk level associated with your drinking habits. Take the online assessment here
.Track and reduce your alcohol intake
Drinks Meter, a free app, allows you to track your alcohol / calorie intake, how much you spend on alcohol, set weekly goals to reduce and stay healthy. Learn more about the Drinks Meter app here
.Make it a mocktail
Mocktails are a fun and refreshing alternative to alcohol, great for parties and other social events. Drug Info has a range of delicious, literary themed mocktail recipes that make the perfect substitute. Find a great mocktail recipe here
The Get Healthy Alcohol Reduction program is designed to support you to make healthy lifestyle changes and reduce your alcohol consumption. The NSW Get Healthy Service is available Mon – Fri 8am – 8pm. Call 1300 806 258 or register online.
Need help with a drug or alcohol issue?
For free and confidential advice 24/7 call Family Drug Support on 1300 368 186 or Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 250 015. Counsellors are available to provide information, referrals, crisis counselling and support. Or start a Web Chat with an ADIS counsellor online Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 5pm.
Reproduced with kind permission from Drug Info, State Library of NSW. Published on the Drug Info website in January 2023.
Image - Courtesy Ku-ring-gai Council