In conversation (video): Alcohol and older people – roles of individuals, professionals and organisations in improving knowledge and understanding of the impacts of alcohol in later life.
Dr Beth Bareham, Research Associate from Newcastle University, speaks to Kate Bowman, content producer for the Later Life Audio and Radio Cooperative (LLARC) in the third of a series of video conversations about alcohol and older people. In this discussion, they cover roles of individuals, professionals and organisations in improving knowledge and understanding of the impacts of alcohol in later life.
Alcohol is related to over 60 health conditions, including high blood pressure, liver disease, depression, and many types of cancer. Older people aged 50-years or over experience the most alcohol related harm in the UK and in many other countries.
This discussion considers the roles of individuals, professionals and organisations in improving knowledge and understanding of the impacts of alcohol in later life. Beth and Kate talk about self-awareness and changing habits. They discuss signs individuals can use (such as weight loss) as tangible ways to demonstrate the positive impact of reducing alcohol intake. Professionals such as pharmacists, nurses and GPs are highlighted as playing an important role. Support may also come from employers to educate people within work settings, before retirement.
Beth said: “A lot of my work is around making sure that primary care practitioners are supported to be able to help older adults understand their drinking and how it might be impacting their health in the context of everything else that’s going on for them, like the conditions and the medications that they might be taking. Pharmacists tend to be most in the know about this, but I think a lot of older adults don’t have much in-depth contact with a pharmacist.”
Kate said: “I think you’re right there, and I think they do rely on their GPs. So I think there you come down to the role of the specialists and the GPs and how do they talk to people when they come into the surgery about what they’re doing in terms of their lifestyle choices? There is something about those mixed messages around ‘should we drink?’, ‘how much is safe?’, ‘is it safe at all to drink’, that we need to sort of get to the bottom of.”
You can watch the full conversation in the video below
This video was produced by Dr Jenny Liddle and Dr Nav Aujla, who are Research Fellows from the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) North East and North Cumbria (NENC) Multi-morbidity, Ageing and Frailty theme, and filming was supported by Newcastle University.
Dr Beth Bareham
Dr Beth Bareham is post-doctoral researcher with a focus upon late-life alcohol use. Her work aims to understand and support older people’s alcohol-related decisions, with view of addressing alcohol-related harm in the older population. She completed her doctorate in Public Health at Newcastle University in 2019, which looked to identify health and psychosocial factors shaping late life drinking.
She has a background in health psychology, and also draws upon social theory in her work. She also spent three months working as an embedded researcher with Drink Wise Age Well – a Glasgow-based programme at the forefront of prevention and treatment services to address alcohol-related harm amongst the older population.
She is currently working on a project for the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) North East and North Cumbria (NENC), looking to understand better the lived experience of older people who have co-occurring alcohol and mental health problems, and think about what holistic and integrated and tailored support for older adults with these co-occurring conditions might look like.
You can follow Dr Beth Bareham on Twitter @BKBareham
Further resources and reading
Sober October https://www.gosober.org.uk/about/the-challenge