New e-learning module will help people working with, or supporting over 50s to recognise & respond to problem drinking

Posted 01.05.2018

A new online, interactive training module has been launched to help people who work with, or support older adults to recognise if they are being adversely affected by alcohol and respond in a way that is supportive and non-judgemental.

The module, which has been developed by Drink Wise, Age Well – a National Lottery funded programme that helps people make healthier choices about alcohol as they age – is available at and takes no more than two hours to complete, putting it within reach of many practitioners and frontline staff such as social workers, housing officers and HR professionals, as well as carers and family members.

The UK is currently experiencing a generational shift in alcohol use. Harmful drinking is declining in every other age group except the over 50s.

The reasons for this are complex, but an ageing population having grown up in a culture of drinking, or using alcohol to cope with later life transitions is part of it.

A 1major study for Drink Wise, Age Well has shown that approximately one in three older adults with an alcohol problem first develop it later in life with 40% saying it’s due to retirement and 26% citing bereavement. A further 20% say they are drinking more now than in the past due to loss of sense of purpose.

A more recent 2study showed that health practitioners were reluctant to intervene and help older drinkers because older adults were “too old to change” or simply because they didn’t want to deny them a pleasure they had grown used to.

The number of people at risk from poor physical and mental health in later life due to their drinking means this position cannot continue.

Drink Wise, Age Well has been at the forefront of calls for better training to help health professionals, practitioners and frontline staff to provide age-appropriate support to the over 50s. As Julie Breslin, head of the programme, explains:

“In the UK, more than four and a half million people aged 50 plus are thought to be at risk from their drinking. Each and every one of these people are individuals with family, friends and colleagues who can also be affected by a loved one’s drinking.

“We firmly believe that equipping people who come into contact with older adults to recognise and respond to harmful drinking can save so many more people from poor physical and mental health in later life than we could ever achieve on our own.

“We invite health professionals, practitioners, carers, frontline staff, volunteers and many more to take this course and be ready to make a difference to the lives of over 50s living in their communities.”