Alcohol misuse by older adults is associated with poorer mental health, an increased risk of suicide and a greater chance of falls as well as an overall increase in the death rate of heavy drinkers. Researchers from Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, studied a sample of 4,646 people over 60. They found that nearly 90% of them could be classified as low-risk drinkers, nearly 10% were moderate-risk drinkers and just over 1% could be classified as genuine problem drinkers. Being a woman, older and African-American were associated with a decreased risk of alcohol problems whereas being the adult child of an alcoholic and being an ex- or current smoker were linked to an increased risk as was having major depression. People in the high-risk category had significantly worse mental and physical health than those people who drank less.
Sacco, Paul, Bucholz, Kathleen and Spitznagel, Edward L. - Alcohol use among older adults in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions: a latent class analysis Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs November 2009, 70(6), 829-838