Drinking Our Way Into Retirement

We hear a great deal about healthy living and how those of us living in the pampered, developed world are living longer, more active lives. One of the results of this appears to be that our politicians are determined to raise the retirement age to help keep “the 1%” comfortable. Of course, that doesn’t mean that pre-retirement planning should be delayed.

There are lots of things to worry about as retirement looms and the years around retirement can be stressful, and being under stress can have an effect on alcohol consumption. So, an international team has pored through the data of a large French study of the drinking habits of more than 12,000 good citizens covering the 5-year periods either side of their retirement (1). They were particularly interested in the prevalence of heavy drinking.

The most striking result was that the prevalence of heavy drinking trended slowly down until a year before retirement. At that point it started to climb steadily until a year after retirement. It then started to trend slowly down again. So in all cases, there was a two-year binge. Clearly, the stress associated with retiring is a significant problem. Or maybe, just maybe, it is just a sign of a 2-year celebration.

The authors of the study suggest that older people should be targeted with information on the dangers of the overuse of alcohol as they may misinterpret the information that is published on the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption. I hope that this doesn’t mean more pamphlets through the mail to add to the pile on funeral insurance and cheap cremations that grows steadily. Perhaps, if they do get something out, they could add instructions as to the best way to suck an egg?

  1. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0026531

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