New Brunswick Seniors and Alcohol
|The province of New
Brunswick (Department of Health and Wellness) produced a 2002 report on the
prevalence of substance use and gambling among older adults. You can find
the 123 page report online:
Or read some highlights below:
What Were They Interested In?
The purpose of the report was twofold:
Who Did They Survey?
There is a lot of good information in this survey, but it has some significant drawbacks in terms of who they asked.
They sampled 1000 adults aged 55+ and conducted phone interviews with them. Actually they sample 1345, but 345 people either refused or were not available.
The majority of those interviewed (64%) were women. This is quite a bit higher than the actual percentage of older women in the province. For example, of the 100,000 seniors (65+) in the province of New Brunswick, 58% are women, and among the 55-64 year olds, it is a 50-50 split for women and men. For the whole 55+ group, the respective percentages of men and women in New Brunswick in 2001-2 was 48% and 52%.
In other words, this survey oversampled older women and that likely affects some of the findings in areas such as percentage of drinkers. Also in New Brunswick, older women's incomes are only 61% of the men's; and we know that in general, income and likelihood of drinking are very closely tied.
What Were the General Findings?
Many of the findings are similar to what we tend to see in other jurisdictions, such as drinking declining with age; greater percentage of men drinkers; much greater likelihood of drinking as income and education increase. There are some differences.
Here is an overview.
Just over half of all New Brunswick seniors (51.8%) aged 55+ surveyed here consumed alcohol within the past 12 months. One-quarter (24.8%) of NB seniors report that they have never had an alcoholic beverage. A similar proportion (23.4%) have not consumed any alcohol in the last year, but have at some point in the past.
In comparison, according to 1998-9 national figures provided by Statistics Canada, 74% of people across Canada aged 55-64 drank, either occasionally or regularly (80% for men, and 69% for women). This percentage of occasional and regular drinkers dips among people aged 65-74 to 67%, with more men than women drinkers (72% and 62% respectively).
The percentage of life long abstainers in the New Brunswick survey is quite a bit higher in this sample compared to the national average. Nationally, the % of abstainers is
What Else Did the New Brunswick Survey Find?
1. Gender, age, marital status, education, income and health region were significantly related to past year use of alcohol, after adjusting for other demographic characteristics. The odds of drinking among male seniors were 2.6 times higher than female seniors (65.8% versus 43.8%).
2. Prevalence of drinking tended to decline with age, with the majority (62.6%) of adults aged 55-64 having consumed alcohol during the past year as compared to only 36.3% of those over 75 years of age.
3. Seniors who were currently married are more inclined to have drank than those who were not living with a spouse or partner, although those who were previously married are almost 2 times more likely (1.75) than seniors who never married to have used alcohol in the past year.
4. Alcohol use in the last year increases significantly with level of education. Seniors with University level education were most inclined to drink alcohol (75.9%), about three times more likely than those with high school education or less (44.7%).
5. The rate of drinking also increases with household income level, with incomes of $25,000 or greater associated with approximately twice the odds of having consumed alcohol in the previous 12 months ($25K-$50K: 2.5; $50K+: 1.8).
Seniors with a household income of less than $25,000 per year were least inclined to drink (41.0%), particularly compared to those in households earning $25,000 to $50,000 per year (70.8%).
Approximately 5.4% of seniors (with a 4% to 7% range depending on age and sex) reported daily alcohol consumption in the last year. The regular drinkers account for 10% of those who had any alcohol in the 12 months before the survey.
In comparison, this percentage of daily drinkers is one half of the percentage found in Ontario for seniors, where 10.9% of drinkers drank daily.
Gender and education affected the likelihood of older adults in New Brunswick drinking daily. The odds of daily drinking among male seniors were 2.8 times higher than female seniors (8.9% versus 3.4%). The prevalence of daily drinking tends to increase with education level (University educated seniors are 2.6 times more likely to drink alcohol daily compared to those with high school or less).
Estimated Number of Drinks Consumed Among Past Year Drinkers
On average, older adults in New Brunswick consumed 1.4 alcoholic beverages per week during the last 12 months. Among drinkers, 2.7 beverages per week were consumed on average. The Ontario figure was 3.73 drinks on average.
Five or More Drinks In A Single Sitting Weekly
Consumption of 5 or more drinks in a single sitting, on a weekly or more frequent basis, is an indicator of regular heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages. Cumulative effects of this consistent heavy level of drinking are potentially detrimental.
Approximately 1.8% of New Brunswick seniors (range of 1.1% to 2.8%) reported drinking at least five drinks in a single sitting, on either a daily or weekly basis. The authors urge caution in the figures below because there is a lot of statistical variability. For example, this is considerably lower than in Ontario, where 5.5% of the seniors drank at least five drinks in a single sitting.
Fifteen or More Drinks Per Week
Consumption of 15 or more alcoholic beverages on a weekly basis is another indicator of the percentage of seniors who are drinking at a level that may be potentially harmful to their health.
The prevalence among older adults in New Brunswick of drinking 15 or more alcoholic beverages per week during the last 12 months was approximately 1.4% (range of 0.8% to 2.4%).
This meant that 1% to 2% of seniors in the province (or approximately 3% to 4% drinkers) were drinking at a rate that could compromise their health and well being. In comparison, in Ontario 2.6% of older adults were drinking 15+ drinks a week.
New Brunswick also found:
Please note: We know that, in general the consumption trends for alcohol tend to be tied to income levels. Per capita income for New Brunswick has tended to be a bit lower than the national average ($24,153 vs. $28,802, in 2002; median income for the New Brunswick is $18,200 compared to $23,000 for Alberta and $24,600 for Ontario.)
Health and Wellness, New Brunswick. 2002 Seniors Survey - Prevalence of Substance Use and Gambling Among New Brunswick Adults Aged 55+
Highlights: 2003 Report Card on the Status of Women in New Brunswick (New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women) www.acswcccf.nb.ca/english/documents/reportcard2003.pdf
New Brunswick Population Statistics: www.gnb.ca/0160/Economics/PopulationbyAgeandSex1.htm
New Brunswick Income Statistics www.gnb.ca/0160/Economics/PersonalIncomePerCapita.html
Measuring Up - Core Business - PEOPLE (June 25, 2002) Edmonton, Alberta
Statistics Canada: www.statcan.ca/english/Pgdb/health05a.htm
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