By Julie Breslin, Head of Programme, Drink Wise, Age Well Glasgow
Drink Wise, Age Well was established in 2014 to help people aged 50 plus make healthier choices about alcohol as they age. We are a National Lottery funded programme operating in five UK “demonstration” areas including Glasgow. In each area we offer a unique, age-appropriate, community based approach including:
• Delivering one-to-one support – including home visits – and group activities
• Prevention and campaigning
• Building resilience to alcohol misuse in individuals and communities
• Training to help practitioners, frontline staff and carers recognise and respond to problematic drinking in the over 50s
However, we also campaign nationally and provide advice and guidance at www.drinkwiseagewell.org.uk for those further afield. Our most recent campaign, ‘Vintage Street’, highlights the later life transitions that can trigger harmful drinking. The campaign aims to tackle the stigma around problem drinking in older adults, which we know prevents many people from getting help. The campaign film puts a magnifying glass on the lives of “empty-nesters” Derek and Jackie as well as recently retired Kevin, and Liz, who is struggling to cope with the loss of her husband.
Our post campaign survey found that of those who saw the film 83% are now more likely to believe that society should treat older adults with an alcohol problem with a more tolerant attitude. At the testing stage of the campaign one issue raised by the focus groups was the lack of awareness on the risks associated with alcohol so we also wanted to use the campaign as an opportunity to educate people to the fact that alcohol is linked to seven different types of cancer including bowel and breast cancer (https://thescpn.org/2FXbIJv). This is increasingly important in light of the recent Cancer Research UK study that shows 4 in 10 cancers are preventable. 12,000 cancers per year across the UK are linked with alcohol, which is 3.3% of all cancers diagnosed in the UK. Our campaign evaluation showed that 84% of respondents said they are now more aware of the link between alcohol and cancer since watching the film.
It is vital that we continue to educate people around alcohol and its links to cancer, and seek partnerships and shared opportunities to do so.