On my local news programme yesterday there was a piece on how sobriety is trending these days, the young definitely getting it with education on misuse, the middle aged also able to more transparent, with empathy shown and tribal support.
However as Professor Sally Marlow pointed out, the older generation are not following this trend. They are all around us, hiding in plain sight. When you get into your sixties it seems there are two choices, you decide to make the most of the twilight years, with a cheeky little glass or four with friends, or to almost disappear, maybe bereaved after a long partnership, kids flown the nest, friends who most certainly were affected profoundly by the pandemic, either managing to limp along with underlying health conditions or simply withdrawn into self isolation. Misery loves company, and that is often bottle shaped. The first event I went to after I lost my husband was a wedding. I was put on a table with other widows and felt completely disengaged with the rest of the crowd, set apart even more because I did not drink alcohol.
No one seems to ever highlight this generation of heavy drinkers, baby boomers, who are for the most part so wise, compassionate, useful. Ageing is a cruel mistress not helped by us being written off as useless.
We are not. Many of my clients are over 60, still highly functioning individuals, but completely empty on the self worth front. They feel that there is no point changing habits because frankly who will care?
I do. My experience shows me these people are remarkable. They don’t accept they need life coaches of any sort, they have lived life. They know they need help with alcohol, but the process is excruciatingly shameful until it is too late. This generation rarely dreams of telling anyone of how they struggle, they just get on with it. This has consequences to their own mental and physical health.
We are not on the scrap heap, we deserve to have the same platform as all other generations with our fears and make it just as acceptable for us to be considered worth the effort. Ageism with the women is rife, and there is no chance this will change unless we older warriors get out there and stand up for ourselves because we have so much to offer. There are thousands of us who simply are too scared to tell our stories publicly because apparently we should know better, at our age! Many could be far less of a burden, a word which none of us relish, to our families and the NHS, if alcohol issues could be discussed as openly our younger counterparts do, without any stigma.