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About the project

Raising awareness and practical tips on how to enjoy a drink and stay safe as we get older

Most older people have enjoyed a drink and known how to keep well throughout their adult lives.

But as we get older it becomes more tricky to find the best balance.

  • Our bodies respond differently to alcohol as we get older.
  • We often take more medication as we get older, and pills and alcohol don’t always mix well.
  • We may have more problems with our balance or poorer eyesight. We’re at more risk of having a fall anyway, and becoming more unsteady on our feet isn’t a such a good idea.
  • Life can be hard, such as when we lose people we care about, and it can be easy to drift into drinking more as a way of coping.

Outside the Box worked with groups led by older people to develop resources to help older people keep safe and well when they have a drink.
A few groups helped to gather the experiences and advice of older people.

  • We brought together people’s ideas to develop some Tips for older people to help stay safe.
  • There are also tips for groups, as sometimes members and workers worry about people who seem to be drinking too often or becoming unwell.
  • We also spoke to people who are experts to check out the advice that is given to people.

“There is a lot of information around about safe drinking for younger people, but not much for older people. So we’re doing something about it.”

“My advice? Take it easy. Take your time and enjoy each sip.”

Research Project

We carried out a small research project, to find out how older people use alcohol, what sorts of information and advice they would like, and who they would talk to about their own or someone else’s use of alcohol.

The summary and the full report are available to download below.

Consultation on proposed guidelines

In January 2016 Chief Medical Officers issued revised guidelines on safe levels of alcohol use. These mention older people for the first time.

These are open to consultation until 1st April 2016. Outside the Box is planning to put in a response and we can include points that people send to us. We hope other people will also send in their own response.

You can get more information at
We’ve added their paper on the public consultation as a download.

How You Can Help

You can use the Hints and Tips in your own teams and projects. There is a space on the back page for you to add your own contact details.

We would like to hear what happens.

  • What impact is there when you talk about alcohol and older people
  • Have you more tips to share?

Our research is focused mostly on people who were in touch with community groups.

  • You may want to talk about the issues that people raised there with people you know.
  • It would also be good if people looked at the experience of older people who are more isolated.

This project has grant support from Foundation Scotland, Robertson Trust and Alcohol Research UK.

The grant from Foundation Scotland has been contributed by the Scottish Whisky Action Fund.

Falkirk Alcohol and Drugs Partnership has given us advice on how to ensure the project materials refect good practice.

Thanks to all the community projects, voluntary organisations and NHS teams who have helped with their experiences and suggestions.

Partners & Funders