7 may 2010

Age-Related Changes in Drinking Patterns From Mid- to Older Age: Results >From the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study

Background: Drinking has generally been shown to decline with age in older adults. However, results vary depending on the measure of alcohol consumption used and the study population. The goals of this study were to (i) describe changes in drinking in a current cohort of older adults using a variety of measures of drinking and (ii) examine a number of different possible predictors of change.

Methods: This is a longitudinal study of a community-based sample surveyed at 2 time points, ages 53 and 64 years. We estimated a series of logistic regressions to predict change and stability in drinking categories of nondrinking, moderate drinking, and heavy drinking. Linear regressions were used to predict change in past-month drinking days, past-month average drinks per drinking day, and past-month total drinks.

Results: >From age 53 to 64, average drinks per drinking day and heavy drinking decreased. Frequency of drinking increased for men and women, and total drinks per month increased for men. The most consistent predictors of drinking changes were gender, health, and education. Other factors predicted drinking change but were not consistent across drinking measures including: adolescent IQ, income, lifetime history of alcohol-related problems, religious service attendance, depression, debt, and changes in employment.

Conclusions: Heavy drinking decreases with age, but we may see more frequent moderate drinking with current and upcoming cohorts of older adults. Components of quantity and frequency of drinking change differently. Composite measures of total alcohol consumption may not be adequate for describing relevant changes in drinking over time. A number of factors predicted patterns of change in drinking and warrant further exploration.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Molander R.C.; Yonker J.A.; Krahn D.D.
  • Issue

    Alcohol Clin.Exp.Res. / pages 1182-92 / 34(7)
  • Published Date

    7 may 2010