People over 65 should drink less, a report saysRecommended safe limits for drinking alcohol by older people should be drastically cut, according to a report.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists says people over 65 should drink a maximum of only 1.5 units of alcohol a day.
That is the equivalent of just over about half a pint of beer or a small glass of wine.
How softly we creep towards zero. It won't be long before there is 'no safe level' for anyone and the temperance lobby can really get to work.
It warns current advice - 14 units of alcohol for women and 21 for men each week - is based on work with young adults.
I believe this to be a lie. According to one who was there, the guidelines—now rebranded 'safe limits'—were "not based on any firm evidence at all. It was a sort of intelligent guess by a committee." If any evidence has appeared in the years since to make the guidelines anything other than an "intelligent guess", the RCP has not publicised it. I have never heard the claim that the limits were devised only with young adults in mind, and it's not as if they haven't had enough media coverage over the years to mention this little fact.
But even if you accept that the guidelines are not pure fantasy—in which case you may be drunk yourself—they were weekly guidelines, not daily 'safe limits'. A weekly guideline cannot be cut up into seven chunks and still carry the same risk. If you do that, you'll end up making preposterous statements like "drinking more than half a pint of a beer in a day puts old people's lives at risk." That is so plainly untrue that no old person is going to take the Royal of College of Physicians seriously. Welcome aboard, oldies.
The report says a third those who experience problems with alcohol abuse do so later on in life, often as a result of big changes like retirement, bereavement or feelings of boredom, loneliness and depression.
Well, you know what? If that's their situation, let them have a bloody drink, you miserable temperance swine. There is no public interest being served by having elderly people face loneliness and depression in a state of total sobriety. It really is—and I can't say this often enough—none of your business.
The editor of Saga magazine, Emma Soames, described the recommendations as "unbelievable".
"I think people will be infuriated by this. It's described as a public health problem, it's actually a private health matter."
Abso-fricking-lutely. It takes a descendent of Winston Churchill to tell it like it is. 'Public health' is a grossly misused term that is almost exclusively applied to private health. The infectious diseases have all but disappeared in Britain. Water and air is clean. Food is safe and labelled. At a time when we need a public health movement the least, the largest and much well-funded public health movement in history emerges.
There are, let's face it, only two things that are likely to cause poor health: bad luck and bad habits. You can't do anything about the first and the second is entirely a matter for the individual. Those who interfere in private behaviour do not deserve to be described as part of a public health movement. Call them anything you like—busybodies, wowsers, puritans, zealots, neo-prohibitionists—but don't go along with the charade that the private is public.