Background: There are limited data on the impacts of alcohol use in older adults. We aimed to evaluate self-reported hospital admissions and falls against current Australian alcohol consumption guidelines.
Methods: We conducted a longitudinal analysis of data from five Australian cohort studies. The study comprised 16,785 people aged 65 years or older at baseline. Alcohol consumption was categorized using Australian guidelines in standard (10 g) drinks per day as “abstinent,” “low-risk” (>0 ≤2), “long-term risk” (>2 ≤4), or “short-term risk” (>4). Separate generalized estimating equations for men and women, controlling for key demographic, and health variables (depression, diabetes, circulatory and musculoskeletal conditions) were used to examine the relationship of alcohol consumption with hospitalization and falls against a reference category of low-risk consumption.
Results: Most participants were in the low (10,369, 62%) or abstinent (5,488, 33%) categories. Among women, all alcohol groups had greater odds of admission than low-risk users; among men, only the abstinent group had increased odds. For both genders, depression, diabetes, circulatory and musculoskeletal conditions all increased the odds of admission. For both genders, the unadjusted model showed that abstainers had increased odds of falling, with depression, diabetes, and for women, musculoskeletal conditions also associated with falls in the adjusted model.
Conclusion: These outcomes suggest that older women in particular could benefit from targeted alcohol consumption messages or interventions. In relation to falls, other health conditions appear better targets for intervention than alcohol use.