back to article Booze for wrinklies: Good or bad?

UK psychologiests and American "exercise psychologists" took up diametrically opposed views today on the issue of whether old people should be allowed to drink booze. Leading the British media was a new report (pdf here) from the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Older People’s Substance Misuse Working Group, which asserts that …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    god dammit

    I was looking forward to old age, all I want to achieve is drinking too much, eating too much, and being plugged into my virtual reality love pet! I'll be old dammit, I don't want to live forever. Unless I can live forever as I am now, plus some kind of awesome superpowers or a truck load of money.

  2. Code Monkey

    If I make to 70...

    ... I'll drink as much as I bloody well like. And anyone who tells me otherwise will be on the end of a damned good thrashing from my Zimmer!

    1. Burch

      I already do

      So it's unlikely to be something I'll face.

  3. Ian K

    "We're all looking for an anti-aging [sic <mutter> bloody Yanks] cure in a pill,"

    Actually, I suspect very few are looking for that. Looking for an anti-ageing pill, or an ageing cure, yes, but looking for a pill to *cure* anti-ageing?

    I'll get me duffel coat.

    1. IR


      Everyone at my place of employment received a health newsletter in which the main headline was "Health Prevention For Men"

    2. BrentRBrian
      Thumb Up

      Anti-aging cure

      We YANKS have an ANTI-AGING pill, the pill and the handy dispenser is manufactured by SMITH & WESSON.

  4. hamsterjam

    For crying out loud! Mind your own business!

    My brother-in-law is a doctor. On the day that he became my brother-in-law he met my late grandmother who was at the time 89 years old, and still rolled her own Golden Virginia smokes, as well as regularly enjoying more than the odd "dirty glass".

    Egged on by other wedding guests to issue a medical opinion he said, "If she still enjoys these things then she should continue to do so. She doesn't need to worry about long-term consequences". This is wisdom.

    Amusingly, though we see a reversal of the expected positions here. The normally-abstemious septics promote drink, whilst the British scorn their own maxim of "a little of what you fancy does you good".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Are you sure he wasn't just implying that she didn't have long to live?

      1. hamsterjam

        Re: But

        Erm...that's exactly what he was doing. His attitude was that, since (statistically speaking) there were a limited number of years left for her to enjoy, she should enjoy them as she saw fit.

        His words to my gran: "Don't listen to them. You're nearly 90. When the time comes it won't be drinking and smoking that did it."

        And, when the time came, it wasn't.

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Is it just me?

    Or is one bit of the government complaining because we live so long that health and pensions can't be afforded, and another bit is telling us exactly how to achieve that old age?

    Just asking...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      The key is...

      Forget what they're saying, the problem is in the fact that they're trying to tell us what to do, even if that "advice", as they like to call it, is often contradictory. It doesn't matter as long as they get a chance to order us around.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Lay off the vino, Lewis

    Trick cyclists - what on earth are you going on about?

    Mike Tyson - eh?

    "dirty glass" - is that some sort of Navy slang?,

    Typos - "study-study", "The trick-cyclists would like to retirement-age people limited..."

    This has to be just about the least coherent article I have ever read on el Reg. Was the author high in spirits when he wrote it?

    1. Michael

      learn to read?

      You aren't a regular reader are you?

      Trick cyclists = Psychiatrists

      study-study, did you read the article? The study was a study of other studies. Or a study-study.....


  7. Ian 35

    And to fully piss patients off...

    Rather like the new NICE guidance which says "all pregnant women are liars" and recommends CO testing even of those that say they don't smoke, the Psychiatrist's report (Psychiatry: how to become a consultant even if you failed your MRCP) says that GPs should demand a multiple-part questionnaire on substance abuse from every patient over 65, every year. The questionnaire is this one: Leaving aside the fact that it's got almost no evidence saying it means much (it's supported by stuff like --- and even allowing for the woeful rigour of the field, that's pretty thin gruel), patients asked to fill in a hectoring, finger-wagging survey every year are going to start assuming that everything else their doctor says is hectoring as well.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: And to fully piss patients off...

      I plan to abuse all the substances when/if I'm old.

      1. CD001

        Why not?

        Why not just abuse them when you're young and can fully appreciate them? ... has the added bonus that getting really old is less likely to be a problem ;)

        1. ian 22

          Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking carcasse

          That is all...

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Wisdom comes with age.

    Well I read the article but I can't for the life of me remember what it said. Must be getting old.

    Ah well, time for a drink.

  9. Marky W

    Daily Mash

    They're good, aren't they:

  10. sandman

    Heads you die, tails you die.

    I think in this case I'm going to believe (because I want to) the Americans. You are going to die sooner or later anyway, so you might as well enjoy yourself before hand. (Obviously avoiding overdoing it so much you pop off really early, which would be a touch counterproductive from an enjoyment perspective).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "whether old people should be allowed to drink booze"

    so the nanny state lives on.

    Freewill anyone? I'll take mine with copious amounts of single malt.

  12. GrahamT

    Age related smartness

    Quote: "The traditional view is that alcohol misuse is uncommon in older people,"

    No, you just get better at hiding it.

    Only 4 years before I have to stretch my daily consumption to a week; better get busy.

  13. a53
    Thumb Down

    Ha I live long enough I'll drink all the booze I want so that I won't care that I'm a wrinkly.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    As my grandad would have said..

    As my grandad would have said.. fuck off.

  15. Doogie Howser MD

    Everything in moderation, dear friends

    Most things in small doses won't cause too much harm - drinking, exercising, smoking, masturbating etc. Still, attempting them all at the same time probably isn't a bright idea.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      exercise can be dangerous

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Graham Marsden

    To quote Hunter S. Thompson:

    "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!"

    1. Munchausen By Taxi
      Thumb Up

      Excellent quote!

      See that there title...

  17. Chris Miller

    A wise man once said:

    There is no human pleasure worth sacrificing for the sake of a few extra years in a nursing home.

    Make mine a double, ta.

  18. Paul Shirley

    psychiatrists - amateurs spouting bollocks

    Ummm, who to trust:

    a bunch of psychiatrists (a trade barely 1 step above homeopathists on the delusional bullshit scale), who probably wouldn't recognise evidence if anyone could explain to them what evidence is


    a bunch of psychologists (a trade at least 1 step above psychiatrists because they make some effort to be scientists), who read to evidence from real scientists and commented on it.

    Think I'll carry on meeting my retired father in the pub as usual from now on. 11 units a day seems about right for my him ;)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      while I agree whole-heartedly with your sentiments ...

      you might want to review your definitions. You have them the wrong way round and psychiatrists are in fact, medical doctors so probably deserve somewhat more respect than you are affording them. Psychologists on the other hand ...

    2. Anonymous Coward

      psyched out

      "a bunch of psychiatrists (a trade barely 1 step above homeopathists on the delusional bullshit scale) ... or ... a bunch of psychologists (a trade at least 1 step above psychiatrists "

      Actually it's the other way around. Psychiatrists have to be medically qualified whereas psychologists can make it up as they go along.

      Mind you, I know a number of Psychiatrists ( not professionally ;-) ) and they all exhibit highly un-scientific biases as well as being generally loopy.

  19. Beelzeebub

    Life... about enjoying ourselves, whichever way we can, without harming others.

    So bollox to those physicians, they are probably all at it anyway.

  20. zetsumei

    Let them do what they must

    Well if you going on freewill basis alcohol should be banned. It’s only your freewill if your actions do not affect anyone else. I think it’s clear that alcohol affects other people ask it makes a large group of people violent. There are drugs that are banned that do not affect others when taken.

    Education it’s the way to deal with anything and if people don’t take that in let them die I mean the world is grossly over populated why do we try so hard to hang on to people.

  21. Nathan 13


    Waiting for the announcement that to help lower old age drinking, we are going to increase tax on wine, port, sherry and anything else we think old peoples drink.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    But won't somebody think of....

    their children.......i.e my inheritance

    The more they allow my 70+ y.o parents to booze it away, the less i'll get when they snuff it!

    It is just so unfair, that I should finance their lavish lifestyles, cruising around the Carribean every year for 8 weeks, just drinking MY money, they may as well just flush it away.

    Oh wait... errr maybe they are happy

    Beer because both of them drink more than I do and it's a lot more then 40 units a week!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      but they'll live for fewer years

      and thus you will inherit YOUR money earlier.

      Poisoning them with more toxic substances might be worth considering if you are in more of a hurry.

  23. WorkingFromHome
    Thumb Down

    Dear god....

    There really does seem to be an entire class of people who consider it not only their right, but their moral duty, to constantly tell the rest of what we should or shouldn't be doing.

    If I want a lecture on what I should be eating or drinking I'll call my mum - everyone else can frank piss off!

    Then again, this constant obsession with alcohol is probably just the prelude to new taxes to keep the above people in jobs....

    Feeling grumpy.....

  24. kevin biswas

    My mate

    Is an ancient, wierd and wonderful hippy artist chap who reckons a bottle of wine over an evening counts as a night off the serious boozing. His bus-pass means he can discreetly sell dope to selected clients with zero transport costs and he has no aversion to the occasional nasal application of white powders when the opportunity presents. He is a damn sight more cheerful than most other 65 year olds I meet.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Yah Bol...

    If the (so called) "experts" can't agree, all I can say is "Mine's a Large One"; Oh, and i'll have a drink as well.

  26. skeptical i

    Jheez, let 'em drink already.

    If the codgers have lived/ survived/ endured into old age, and as long as they're doing no more harm to others and costing no more in healthcare costs borne by others than they would sober, leave 'em be. What's the point of living longer and longer thanks to the miracles of tek-no-lo-gee if the quality of said life is swirling the bowl?

    ... ^^^ ... could use one now, actually

  27. bumpy

    Your mileage may vary

    One of my grandfathers never touched alcohol, and lived to 94. The other enjoyed cocktails regularly and lived to 95. There are too many factors that determine our lifespan to get all nanny-ish about any one thing.

  28. Stratman


    Following the nanny state's advice won't make you live longer,

    but it'll bloody well feel like it.

  29. Cpt Blue Bear

    Actually no...

    From your example it seems that their mileage barely varied at all (I think we can assume the 12 months difference is within the margin for error rather than conclude that drinking cocktails will get you an extra year).

    My Granddad was told to lay off the red wine and strong cheese "for his health" in his mid 80s. He said "thank you, but we all have to die sometime and those are among the few pleasures left at my age". He was too much of a gentleman to tell the doctor a third his age to piss off. He died in his sleep ten years later having seen the millennium in and outlived Don Bradman. Right up to his death I used to share a scotch or two with him when i could (straight up, perhaps ice or a little water strictly for medicinal purposes). I had to bring it 'cause the staff at the home weren't allowed to either buy alcohol for residents or take them shopping for it. Laphroaig was his favourite in later years 'cause apparently Johnnie Walker "isn't what it was" since they started bottling locally. RIP

  30. Martin Budden Bronze badge


    As an adult, I believe that the appropriate daily alcohol limit is me drinking as much as I fucking like.

  31. Gareth Gouldstone

    These are probably the same researchers

    who suggest giving dementia patients Statins, so that they don't die a quick death of heart disease, but linger on for years with no quality of life.

    Would you like a (small) glass of wine to wash your pills down, dear?

  32. Anonymous Coward


    It can hardly be "tough" or "limit" if its not illegal and the oldies in question can just give you the big finger and make their own choices. I personally advocate tough limits on the use of the words "tough" and "limits", restricting them to only those who know how to deploy them correctly and to contexts where they makes sense, rather than just to beef up a shrill, tedious and self-serving Nannyist press release.

    Fuck the science, where's the bottle?

  33. Miek

    Back to reality

    "The traditional view is that alcohol misuse is uncommon in older people" but in reality it is actually rather common.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      My reality is better than yours

      > "The traditional view is that alcohol misuse is uncommon in older people" but in reality it is

      > actually rather common.

      Alcohol misuse is only what other people do.

      Everyone knows that the recommended maximum number of alcohol units was made up out of thin air - it has no scientific basis whatsoever.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    With an economist hat on ..

    ... I've always though that on retirement booze and fags (and whatever else in the way of, ah, 'stimulants' you prefer) should not only be cheap, but compulsory.

    No need to delay retirement dates, then. Probably self-financing, and may be even profitable...

  35. James Pickett


    And how much do the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Older People’s Substance Misuse Working Group quaff over their lunch, I wonder? Oh, I see - it doesn't apply to them...

  36. James Pickett

    Good old days

    There was a time before the Nanny State when oldsters with an iron deficiency in hospital qualified for a glass of stout with their evening meal. Given that it also cheered them up and hastened their recovery, it saved the NHS a fortune...

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