Local health and community representatives have gathered with others to discuss a new Drink Wise Age Well report after research showed rising levels of older people dealing with alcohol addiction.
The Calling Time report also revealed age discrimination in alcohol policy, practise and research. The findings are based on interviews and focus groups with people aged 65 and over with alcohol related issues and a survey of professionals.
The report identified examples of age discrimination including arbitrary age limits which prevent those aged 65 and over accessing alcohol rehabs, through to indirect age discrimination such as alcohol services unable or unwilling to carry out home visits for those who are unable to leave their home due to health related issues or fear of being judged.
Deborah Howe from the Equality Commission said: “Age should not be a determining factor on the care we receive.”
In Northern Ireland, the most noticeable increases in alcohol consumption in recent years have been amongst those aged 60 – 75.
Paul Cavanagh, Health and Social Care Board, highlighted the progress within the statutory health care provision and acknowledged there is still work to be done to ensure ease of access for all.
Thelma Abernethy, Director of Addiction NI and lead for the Drink Wise Age Well Programme in N, said: “It is crucial that going forward that we see a change in this. We know that as we age, there is a potential for increased health issues requiring prescription medication and other support and this coupled with alcohol can lead to serious health complications including death. We also know that if this age group receive service that they make significant gains from it.”
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