Over 60s Drink too Much – Who Cares?

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were affected profoundly by the pandemic, either managing to limp along with underlying health conditions or simply withdrawn into self isolation.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.

Jane’s Blog

My life at 45 wasn’t miserable or dysfunctional, I hit 45 with great gusto, kids jumping on the bed on my day off with presents and dearest husband with a cup of tea, assuring me that my party tonight would be just fab, all our friends ready for feasting and banter at a favourite restaurant in town.

After the tea, smiling down the stairs, there was a special breakfast, champagne and strawberries. The night before I had had my usual bottle of Pinot, my drug of choice, we all quipped about that, after all it was only three glasses, my limit. So by noon was feeling a little giddy, but that is good isn’t it?

Getting ready for my do, went to the hairdresser, another little glass, I had a couple of G & T’s, and now the giddiness was beginning to feel a little blurry, no matter, it was my Birthday after all.

By 8pm I was pissed, smashed, trollied. The whole point of celebration for me was gone. An aggressive, resentful feeling just took over, and as I learned later from my husband, not for the first time, but the first time out in public. I lurched my way around the table, and with my addled head on, decided to be particularly catty to most of my girlfriends, and more than flirtatious with their partners.

Who had I become? This wasn’t Jane, it was a wine soaked woman who thought my behaviour until this catastrophe was normal. It isn’t it wasn’t.

Because of it, I seemed to retreat, withdraw, shame played a part, but worse, the home drinking that I had ‘controlled’, ramped up, one bottle became two, and a third was on the horizon. I had buy another one just in case.

My birthday was in March, by the end of the June, the time had come to tackle this. There was no lightbulb moment, just a deep desire to try to remember who I used to be, rather than what I had become, empty, shell like, depressed, and thoroughly despairing, even though the smile got painted on, inside it felt like a process of destruction would never end, I just couldn’t get my head around that this once pleasurable and relaxing habit had become my nemesis.

I tried AA. The first meeting was more or less what I had expected, quite benign and welcoming. However, the second was quite intimidating, a man asked if he could be my sponsor, and it was difficult to describe the gut instinct that kicked in, but it felt so wrong, because I didn’t want to share my difficulties and intimacies with this person, it just felt completely unprofessional and more than a little scary.

Enter…… Harrogate Sanctuary, found via a Google search. Rather than write, I rang and spoke with Sarah. There was an immediate empathy, and although I am not remotely spiritual, she connected, completely ‘read’ me. I felt not only safe, but inspired by a woman who I now know is possibly the most passionate with regards to this work than anyone I have ever met, before or since. There just was no script, it was me unloading to her, not once did she let me down. She, like the bottle had been, was for 42 days my constant, my go to, my understanding, and my life saver. She is just indescribable, apart from being such a talented therapist a truly stoic woman, never dull, never down, just quick and brilliant.

Now three months off the sauce, I just wanted to thank her, and will try to keep thanking her for not just giving me my life back, but that of my family who feel settled and secure that the woman pre vino is back, with more compassion for others, more thought for others, and more time to make the most of this precious life.

Harrogate Sanctuary is Awesome. Any woman who is struggling PLEASE contact Sara