Ever on the look-out for retirement-related items in the media, anything to get away from Trump, Brexit, etc. etc. etc. I came across this article –Why Baby Boomers are hitting the bottle like never before – disillusioned over 50s (well over in our case) are at risk of serious health problems because of alcohol abuse. As I read on I realised I probably should have stuck with Trump and Brexit. In these days of volte face what constitutes healthy eating or, in this case, healthy drinking has to be taken on a day by day basis on account of what the ‘experts’, that’s the ‘so-called experts’, in case you hadn’t realised, recommend changes from day to day or so it seems to me. I think at the moment we’re supposed to drink 12 units i.e. not more than 12, a week. But who knows, Mrs Summerhouse tells me she read somewhere (sorry that’s somewhere else in the same article) that one large glass of wine a day is regarded by one s-c-e as ‘heavy drinking’. Where do these people (sces) get their data? Well that probably depends on who’s sponsoring their research. Cynical old me.
Also in the article, there’s The Drink Less Mind : The Truth About Over-drinking by Georgia Foster. The article says it (the book) lists the negative side of ‘a bit of a tipple’, which includes impaired co-ordination, depression, heartburn, nausea, stomach ulcers, pancreatitis, high blood pressure, anxiety, falls, dementia, fractures and, of course, cancers, including those of the mouth, throat and rectum. Well, that’s grand, just about covers it I should think. Bloody hell, I need a drink. And as if that wasn’t enough by way of data, there’s also – between 2007/8 and 2013/14 the number of hospital admissions wholly attributable to alcohol rose by 30% in the 25-54 group and 70% for those aged 55 and above. Well done the over 55s I say and come along the 25-54 group. Keep up now.
So far, fair enough I suppose if you like this kind of thing (i.e. you take statistics at face value) but this is where the article really started to irritate me. It started to explain, as articles are expected to do, having raised the topic, why this should be happening to us old gimmers. The reasons given ranged from plausible to pathetic. First, there’s a paradox – the fact we’re living longer gives us more time to drink or quote, ‘an awful lot of time for habitual and escalating drinking, the side effects of which cost the NHS billions’. Here we go again. Well excuse us for living longer and of course that means drinking more.
And here’s the good news for my American readers because the article says, ‘retirement is an issue. The reshaping of what can be 30 years or more of useful post-work life has yet to happen in the UK. This is unlike, for instance, the US, where baby boomers who seek more than decades of ‘silver fun’ in ‘the third age’ can retrain and have a second career and give something back to the community leaving little time for hangovers.’ Ouch, that hurts and I don’t mean the hangover. But at least you guys have it all sorted in a morally righteous and healthily life-affirming way. Not too life-affirming mind, we don’t want you to undo all your good work by living too long and becoming a burden on the health system, now do we?
Second explanation as to why we’re drinking ourselves to death, is that apparently we’re under pressure to become, ‘seventy something Peter Pans’ and that’s why, quote, ‘the bottle becomes more attractive’. Gosh, that’s an attractive bottle. Third, we drink more at home than did previous generations. Quite so, they were all in the pub getting legless. Fourth, more people over 50 are living alone (our fault again for living too long). Fifth reason, my favourite I think, ‘baby boomers may have been seduced by watching years of advertising about the glamour of booze before restrictions (not sure what ‘restrictions’ mean in this context, is this the drink more than one glass a day and you’ll die restriction?) were put in place. The inconvenient fact that most of us in those days watched adverts for beer and martini or some such and we now drink wine obviously does not dent this quite bizarre theory. But apparently although ‘baby boomers ought to be smarter, (but) a lot can happen by osmosis with a large advertising budget.’ Oh please, is that the sound of the ground underneath the barrel being scraped looking for an explanation?
And just in case the kitchen sink wasn’t already in the list of explanations the article says something about us (baby boomers being disillusioned because we were expecting a better world and it turns out it’s shit, whereas our parents worked hard and died before they had chance to worry about what a shit place the world was. Oh, and we have no sense of belonging to a ‘community’. Apparently what builds a sense of community is- trust (apparently we do not have it); no feeling of loss (yep, according to the article, weird though it sounds) and a shared sense of purpose. Nope again. While a ‘concern with status and envy about what others have contaminates the civic heart.’ Envy a bad thing you say, no shit Sherlock. It seems, ‘you need to feel you exist for something larger, each person counting.’ Well, I can’t disagree with this whatever it means, but all this is why we over- 55s drink? Bloody hell, again, I thought it was because we enjoyed a glass or two of wine with our meal and in the words of my grandma – again – a little drop of what you fancy does you good.
And after all that I’m off to the pub. Actually this is not true and I’m actually off to see my diabetic nurse (me not her) for my six-monthly health check. She’ll probably tell me I drink too much but then as a retired person with no purpose in life, no feeling of community and too many pointless hours on my hands, what else would she expect. Funny though none of the above apply to my retirement and if you’ve read this blog you will know this is true and I will still feel like a glass of wine with my meal although not tonight because it’s my jazz workshop. More of which in another retirement blog at a later date, plenty of time after all, in between drinks that is.