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Preventing alcoholism among older people

June 17, 2013

By Janet Thickpenny, policy and learning adviser for the Big Lottery Fund

BIG_B_BLU_screenI’ve been interested in our work with older people in Wales since being involved in the development and delivery of our AdvantAGE programme which supports projects to provide advocacy and befriending services for people over the age of 50.

I was delighted, therefore, to be involved in the development of Rethink Good Heath, BIG’s exciting new programme aimed at tackling late onset of alcohol misuse amongst older people across the UK. This is important as it is estimated that over 1.4 million older people in the UK drink over safe limits and the number of related hospital admissions is growing, increasing concern amongst health professionals.

Following consultation with the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Welsh Government and stakeholders across the UK, BIG has started the search for a UK partner who will develop a strategy to identify and manage a portfolio of 15-20 projects that either try out new preventative approaches or will replicate existing approaches that are proven to be successful. The team is currently briefing partners across the UK about this exciting opportunity, with an event in Wales on 18 June.

The programme aims to inform policy and practice across the UK about preventing alcohol dependency in later life, provide more effective intervention services and improve the health and well-being for people aged over 50 who are at risk of developing alcohol dependency and their families and carers.

This is particularly exciting and relevant in Wales with the recently published Strategy for Older People in Wales 2013-2023, which confirms the problem is a growing concern and that there is a need to raise awareness and understanding of issues associated with substance misuse in older age.

The services in Wales will also compliment our existing AdvantAGE projects which provide support for older people in two areas: advocacy and befriending. The 29 existing projects aim to improve social interaction in order to reduce loneliness, one of the causes of alcohol misuse, and improve well-being, and to increase confidence and ability of people to meet the challenges and opportunities of ageing.

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