The kids are all right. Retirees? Maybe not so much. New analysis of alcohol-use data published by The Washington Post finds that while rates of teen drinking have declined, the prevalence of binge drinking and Alcohol Use Disorder among people older than 65—increasingly made up of baby boomers—is steadily rising.
The percentage of 65-plus Americans who reported incidents of binge drinking—for women, drinking four or more drinks in about two hours, and for men, consuming five or more—increased from 12.5 percent to 14.9 percent between 2005 and 2014, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. As aging Americans remain independent longer, they’re also drinking more. Booze, the Post reports, is often considered a “social lubricant” in retirement communities, and baby boomers are more likely to partake than the “Silent Generation” that aged before them.
Teens, meanwhile, are drinking alcohol at lower rates than 10 years ago. Why? Because they’re avoiding adulting in more ways than one, according to Katherine Keyes, a Columbia University professor of epidemiology who spoke to the Post. Young people’s protracted tip-toe into adulthood—delaying getting full-time jobs, or moving out of their parents’ house—also means they’re not adopting adult habits like drinking and smoking. “You’re sort of cocooned where you don’t have to make that transition to adulthood so quickly,” Keyes tells the Post.
So while teens are sitting home avoiding the real world and Snapchatting, Granny and Pops are mixing up Moscow Mules over mahjong. This has health consequences, the Post article warns, because as our bodies ages, they have a harder time handling the side effects of booze. Kids, maybe it’s time to introduce your grandparents to some less-boozy hobbies, like eating Tide Pods.