Health officials in Wisconsin say they are tracking a disturbing trend in that state’s population of older adults. Compared to last year’s data, Wisconsin residents age 65 and older are drinking more often, binging more and drinking more heavily this year.
“We want everyone to be living better, longer,” said DHS Secretary Linda Seemeyer in the agency’s official press release. “Yet the health of many older adults is on the decline in part because of the unsafe use of alcohol.”
This new information comes from the Wisconsin Epidemiological Profile on Alcohol and Other Drugs, 2016. It finds that 9% of seniors report binge drinking while 6% admit to what is normally considered heavy drinking. For this report, binge drinking is defined as consuming 4 or more drinks in 2 hours for women and 5 or drinks for men. “Heavy” drinking is defined as having 8 or more drinks per week for women and 15 or more drinks per week for men.
Health officials are drawing a straight line between the uptick in alcohol use and what they are characterizing as a steady rise in the number of fatal falls in older adults. In 2010 there were 269 fatal alcohol-related falls documented in the state’s seniors but by 2015 that number had jumped to 365. And that, says WDHS, is a 36% increase.