Why are older Americans drinking so much

Scrapr

Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
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from the NYT
https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/30/...e_code=1.gk0.T1Ha.LWcJotLbZPyB&smid=url-share

I was reading this article & all of a sudden I recognized a celebrity as the main character. I remember when Nords was going through this

I keep my drinking to 3 or 4 nights a week. Typically one glass of whisky or glass of wine. We installed a bar & display shelves in our TV room after I "won" a charity auction of about 15 bottles of whisky. So that has increased my intake from about 1 drink a month. Plus we belong to at least 3 wine clubs that have quarterly shipments. We have a lot of wineries nearby & it's easy to go out tasting

Has your consumption increased after retirement? Is it something you are worried about?
 
Over 30 years since I drank alcohol but my green tea consumption is doing great.
 
I guess it's a stage we go through. 5 to 10 years ago, I drank ~5 times as much as I do today. These days, I'm lucky to drink a 6 pack of beer a month. No hard stuff at all anymore. Why? Just don't enjoy it anymore.
 
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I notice the person they are talking to is named Doug Nordman:
The phone awakened Doug Nordman at 3 a.m. A surgeon was calling from a hospital in Grand Junction, Colo., where Mr. Nordman’s father had arrived at the emergency room, incoherent and in pain, and then lost consciousness.

Yes it’s our Nords:

The younger Mr. Nordman, a military personal finance author living in Oahu, Hawaii, explained that his 77-year-old dad had long been a classic social drinker: a Scotch and water with his wife before dinner, which got topped off during dinner, then another after dinner, and perhaps a nightcap.

I was reading this article & all of a sudden I recognized a celebrity as the main character. I remember when Nords was going through this.
Oops somehow I missed this in your OP.
 
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I'm not 65 yet, but I've cut way back on my drinking since my 40's. I've had wine a couple times in the last year.
 
from the NYT
https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/30/...e_code=1.gk0.T1Ha.LWcJotLbZPyB&smid=url-share

I was reading this article & all of a sudden I recognized a celebrity as the main character. I remember when Nords was going through this.

....

Has your consumption increased after retirement? Is it something you are worried about?

Nords really gets around, doesn't he. :)

Over the past few years my consumption has declined to zero. That's largely due to DW being prescribed a number of medications that don't mix well with alcohol, and if she can't enjoy a glass of wine I'm going to show support and also abstain. Hasn't been an issue.
 
We enjoy wine very much. However the quantities are quite limited. With meals and a half serving 1 to 4 days a week.
 
I routinely had about two drinks a day, most often two glasses of wine, but sometimes a beer substituted for a glass of wine. If I knew I would be going (and not driving) to a dinner party where some great wine would be served, I would abstain from drinking for two or three days before the party to make up for my future over indulgence. I never drank to the point of being 'drunk'. I don't like that feeling.

However, after talking with my doctor last year about alcohol and my aging body, I have limited my alcohol consumption to 2 drinks a week, and often I don't hit that meager goal. In fact, other than the 1/2 cup of wine that went into a sauce I made a few days ago, I don't think I have had any alcohol in the last two weeks. And I don't miss it.

My doctor's main points on alcohol and old age were:

1. Alcohol is tough on aging livers (along with sugar) which leads to various metabolic diseases.
2. It's bad for muscle and bone strength which we older folks already lose at a high rate as we age.
3. It contributes to falls, which lead to things like broken hips, which lead to things like becoming incapacitated, infirm, and even death.

So there it is. IMO, regular alcohol consumption is not worth the risk.
 
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I had my first alcoholic drink at the age of 23, then not again until about 32 when I joined this Megacorp where everyone in the sales office went drinking on Fridays and annual company dinners were always more about drinking than food. I would drink so much on Fridays that I would start to think about drinking again at 3pm on Saturdays and I realized that was really bad. I never gave into the cravings.

Fast forward, I joined another (and last) Megacorp after that company and drank like 6 drinks in one night during a business trip with colleagues and vendor staff. The following day I thought I was going to die. I have not touched another alcoholic drink since then. That was 22 years ago.
 
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It does seem to be an occupational hazard of retirement. When I announced my abrupt retirement at 61, Dad called and told me to watch the alcohol. After his retirement, he and Mom started opening up the wine earlier and earlier in the evening and my youngest brother once pointed out that Dad was visibly intoxicated. Mom died at 85 of a recurrence of breast cancer and Dad lived till almost 90. They had otherwise healthy lifestyles- went out for walks as long as they could and minimized consumption of salt, sugar and fat. They realized they were overdoing it and cut back to a reasonable level. A friend reported that her father developed a drinking problem after her mother died.

I have one ounce of scotch every night and I measure it. Honestly, I LIKE alcohol and I don't ever want a doctor to tell me I have to quit so I exercise moderation.
 
Around 2 drinks a week for me. Less than pre retirement.
 
from the NYT
https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/30/...e_code=1.gk0.T1Ha.LWcJotLbZPyB&smid=url-share

I was reading this article & all of a sudden I recognized a celebrity as the main character. I remember when Nords was going through this

Nords really gets around, doesn't he. :)
In 2012 (during the early months of taking care of my father’s finances) I came across Paula Span’s “When The Time Comes” book. It was a big help in understanding the emotions & finances of caregiving, as well as a glimpse into what it’s like to be the one who’s cared for. I’ve followed Paula’s The New Old Age writing ever since.

Last month she posted on Facebook asking for stories:
Alcohol-related deaths and alcohol misuse are rising among older Americans. If you are or you know:
Someone over 65 struggling with alcohol or seeking treatment
OR
Someone over 65 who is in recovery
OR
A relative of an older person who died from alcohol-related health problems or an accident or injury (like a car crash or a fall while intoxicated)
Would you be willing to talk to me by phone about this?

I was the only volunteer who was willing to share name, age, & location.

We apparently tapped into some emotions. The NYT had over 1700 comments on that article (and rising). Paula's editor told her that the pageviews were impressive even by NYT standards. The article was briefly syndicated on Yahoo!'s home page, where it had over 2200 comments in less than 24 hours.

I was happy to help Paula, and it seemed like a good way to honor Dad’s legacy.

It does seem to be an occupational hazard of retirement.

I have one ounce of scotch every night and I measure it. Honestly, I LIKE alcohol and I don't ever want a doctor to tell me I have to quit so I exercise moderation.

Over 30 years since I drank alcohol but my green tea consumption is doing great.
As usual, the comments on the article are the best part.

My favorite surfing beach is at the end of a few miles of rural road which makes a great location for our local police to set up a sobriety checkpoint (holidays and Saturday afternoons). A few years ago I encountered one, and at least a half-dozen cars had already been pulled off the road for further interviews.

Officer: “Good afternoon sir. Have you been drinking?”
Me: “No, my last drink was 26 February 2011.”
Officer: [smiling] “Thank you, sir. I know exactly what you mean. Drive on.”
 
I am a little surprised they noticed an uptick. Throughout my life one thing I've noticed is that people, my more or less, peers, people who would be "old" now, could never seem to engage in any activity including sitting still without alcohol. And now that they're old they're drinking even more?! I have never been a drinker due to seeing commonplace drinking in the "old" people I saw as a child.
 
I don't like alcoholic drinks very much. I get hungover easily so I'm down to less than 5-10 drinks/beers per year. It's just not a high priority for me and I don't even think about much it anymore. Once a person gets used to not drinking, they usually don't miss it much at all. If I really wanted to get a "high", I'd probably do marijuana, which I do about 1-2 times a year...very little to no hangover effect for me. Getting buzzed or high is just not something I enjoy much.
 
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We're in our early 50s now but during early-mid 2020 (Covid) our wine consumption went up very unhealthily. As others said upthread it was a way to break up boredom and monotony. We drank 4-5 nights per week with dinner. For a couple sharing a bottle of wine nearly equally it means that males will still right around the Dietary Guidelines' recommended amount, but females will be getting twice as much as recommended.

DH and I cut our consumption drastically in 2021 (and changed our eating patterns to more healthy, too). Now I drink an alcoholic drink maybe once a week or every other week. My bodyweight/composition has improved drastically as has my sleep and general mood.

But back in the college years and even into early 30s I was a big social drinker on the weekends -- like the article mentioned even to the point of blacking out on occasion. I've tried to look it up but can't seem to find any articles or research that studies former college/young binge drinkers who have gone decades as moderate or teetotalers. My bloodwork is great and I currently live a healthy lifestyle but I often wonder if that past history will have knock-on health effects as I age even if my current habits tend closer to teetotal.
 
I was with alcoholic parents until I left home at 17. I buried Dad when he was 62 and he was going through a quart of vodka a day (that I know of). Mom died at 83 only because a stroke at 62 made her forget to start drinking again.

I was well on my way in their shoes until one day I woke up and decided I had it. That was 15 years ago. Now my drink of choice is caffeine free Diet Coke.:)
 
have any of posters here had to deal w/parents as described in the article? I ask as we are mostly of the age to be caregivers to family. My folks were mostly teetotalers. Maybe a glass of wine at a party. My dad drank a few beers every night after getting of work (Construction contractor) That lasted a couple years. My inlaws were not drinking much by the time I met them. Based on stories told FIL had a "problem" but by the time I knew him (in his 60's) he drank very little. After he passed MIL gave me all the old bottles...not one of them was any good
 
have any of posters here had to deal w/parents as described in the article? I ask as we are mostly of the age to be caregivers to family. My folks were mostly teetotalers. Maybe a glass of wine at a party. My dad drank a few beers every night after getting of work (Construction contractor) That lasted a couple years. My inlaws were not drinking much by the time I met them. Based on stories told FIL had a "problem" but by the time I knew him (in his 60's) he drank very little. After he passed MIL gave me all the old bottles...not one of them was any good

See my post above yours.
 
We don't drink any alcohol at all because of severe alcoholism in both his family, and in mine. We have seen up close what it can do, and we don't want to be like that! We drink water or an occasional diet Coke or coffee.

Yet another reason why Frank and I were destined for each other. It's so nice to be on the same wavelength about this.
 
Retirement killed someone I know. He retired early (layoff with severence).
He was bored. Crawled into a bottle and couldn't climb out. Died from complications due to liver failure at 65.
Without any dry hobbies outside of employment and suddenly a lot of free time, I can understand how that could be a slippery slope.


Personally, I'd use the extra time to try to optimize the health I've neglected my entire working career. But then again, I already have health conditions. Hindsight.
 
I have never drunk to excess but now, after around 15 years of retirement, I'm drinking almost nothing these days. I have had 2 cans of beer in the fridge since Christmas and as of today, they are still there. I'd make a terrible alcoholic, and a pretty poor moderate drinker too. My parents were very moderate, occasional drinkers.
 
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have any of posters here had to deal w/parents as described in the article? I ask as we are mostly of the age to be caregivers to family. My folks were mostly teetotalers. Maybe a glass of wine at a party. My dad drank a few beers every night after getting of work (Construction contractor) That lasted a couple years. My inlaws were not drinking much by the time I met them. Based on stories told FIL had a "problem" but by the time I knew him (in his 60's) he drank very little. After he passed MIL gave me all the old bottles...not one of them was any good

My mother and father were both alcoholics. My mother was a non-functional, falling-down-drunk alcoholic, and my father was what was described for decades as a "functional" alcoholic (eg, he continued to practice as a psychiatrist for decades) despite heavy drinking every night.

My parents divorced when I was 7 (my sisters were 5 and 9). My mother had what were supposed to be "supervised" visits every year (supervised by her parents) but my grandparents left us alone with my mother on more than one occasion.

On one of these visits, when I was 11 years old, I awakened at 1:00 am to my mother drunk out of her mind, crying on the bathroom floor - she had cut her foot on a broken bottle, and there was blood everywhere. I can clearly remember (age 11!) thinking "It's my job to deal with this, and I mustn't wake my younger sister, because she is just a child." (I was 11 going on 40.)

I tried waking my older sister, but she ignored me and pretended to be asleep. After trying unsuccessfully to stop the bleeding and clean up the blood, I called my grandparents, who must have been in their sixties at the time. They arrived and dealt with the situation; we were whisked away to their house and I think that was the last time they left us alone with out mother. For years afterward both my sisters refused to make the annual visits. I continued to go because I loved visiting my grandparents.

I recall my father and stepmother had "cocktail hour" every night, which lasted about two hours, where they just drank and drank before dinner. She was also a working psychiatrist, by the way. Eventually they divorced and he married for the third time.

My mother smoked heavily, and she died at the age of 62, three weeks before her first grandchild (my sister's daughter) was born. Cause of death was complications of alcohol poisoning and COPD.

My father never stopped drinking entirely - it would ebb or flow, depending on which wife he was married to (or in the throes of divorcing). He eventually divorced the third wife as well.

He developed diabetes late in life, and he cut down on the drinking, but he never gave it up completely. He died in 2007 at age 85.

My mother was a sad drunk, and my father was an angry drunk.

My older sister followed directly in my mother's footsteps - she married and had three children in quick succession. She had started drinking to excess in her twenties; she drove drunk with two of the children in the car; she faced zero consequences for that. The police appeared time and again over the years to scrape her up off the floor and temporarily remove her children.

Eventually she was divorced and to my knowledge she now lives on public assistance in subsidized housing somewhere in New England. Every couple of years she blasts out an email to me declaring that I am the cause of all that has gone wrong in our family for three generations (alcoholic families love scapegoating). I have a spam folder specifically set up to capture these missives; I stopped reading them years ago.

The last time I saw my younger sister (about 20 years ago) she was heavily dependent on alcohol, although not to the extent of the other family members.

The only silver lining to this saga is that my two nieces and nephew appear to have escaped the alcohol curse; they are all living and thriving and doing well.

I cut off all contact with my family long ago. I refused to enable or excuse anyone's drinking, so they were glad to see the back of me.

I have never had a drink of alcohol in my life. I'm not saying this to brag - I simply looked around at the age of 7 and decided that I wasn't interested in ever having to be scraped up off the floor in a drunken stupor - I figured there were better ways to live my life, and it turns out I was right.

Some situations are so toxic they can't be fixed; the best you can do is save yourself.
 
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