Educate seniors about perils of problem drinking

Recently, there were several reports of violence caused by people under the influence of alcohol (70-year-old man who shouted at and slapped foreigner on train arrested, April 22; Man jailed 12 months for attacking wife, son with knife, May 10; After drinking together, he assaults friend who suffers a skull fracture and later dies; and Man, 75, sparks alcohol-fuelled brawl but ends up being beaten up by 4 men who are jailed, both published on May 11).

It is troubling that these people seem to fall under the same age group.

These incidents are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to acts of violence that happen daily but remain unreported among people in this age group.

It is not uncommon these days to see many seniors gathering at coffee shops over beer. It is worrying to see the number of bottles of beer these men seem to be drinking.

The Health Promotion Board recommends that men should drink no more than two standard drinks a day, and women, no more than one.

A standard alcoholic drink is defined as a can of regular beer, half a glass of wine or 1 nip of spirit.

As people age, they should realise that these limits may no longer hold true. Research has shown that as one gets older, their propensity to be intoxicated sooner increases even if their intake of alcohol remains the same.

As our population ages, we must become mindful and educate our seniors about the ill-effects of problem drinking.

Seniors may assume that their drinking is in control when they keep to their regular amount of drinks but, unfortunately, they may fail to realise that, with age, their ability to handle alcohol declines.

Such problem drinkers put themselves at risk for serious conflicts with family, friends and colleagues.

They are prone to doing things they never expected, like behaving abusively, fighting, losing their balance, getting into accidents and suffering serious fractures and health issues.

Sadly, they end up with legal and financial problems at an age when they should be enjoying their life happily.

As a community, we must be aware of the risks of this and help to discourage this pattern of drinking.

Ram Narain Dubey

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 15, 2018, with the headline 'Educate seniors about perils of problem drinking'. Print Edition | Subscribe