Alcohol consumption guidelines for older people

Alcohol consumption guidelines for older people

There is no amount of alcohol that is safe for everyone. The Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol provide recommendations to keep the risk of harm from alcohol low, but don’t remove all risk. Older people report drinking alcohol more regularly than people in younger age groups. Those aged 70 years and over are the age group most likely to drink daily (both males and females) [1].

Older people’s risk of harm from alcohol is increased because they have a decreased ability to break down alcohol. The risk of falls and driving accidents increases with alcohol consumption, as does the risk of adverse interactions with medications.

What are the recommendations?

To reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury, healthy adults should:

  • Drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week, and
  • Drink no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day.

The less alcohol consumed, the lower the risk of harm from alcohol will be.

What does a standard drink look like?

A standard drink contains 10 grams of alcohol. This might look like:

  • 425 millilitres of light beer
  • 375 millilitres of mid-strength beer
  • 285 millilitres of full-strength beer
  • 285 millilitres of regular cider
  • 100 millilitres of sparkling wine
  • 100 millilitres of wine
  • 60 millilitres of fortified wine (such as port or sherry)
  • 30 millilitres of spirits (such as vodka, gin, rum or whiskey)

For more information, including suggestions on how to moderate alcohol intake, see the Alcohol Appetite for Life factsheet.

[1] National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol. Australian Research Council and Universities Australia. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.