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“I have a drink because I enjoy having a drink.” A qualitative study exploring elderly adults’ self-reported motivations for drinking alcohol

Sarris, Natalie (2017) “I have a drink because I enjoy having a drink.” A qualitative study exploring elderly adults’ self-reported motivations for drinking alcohol. UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

The elderly population present a complex biological phenomenon derived from an interaction between genetic and environmental factors. Significant life changes can trigger vulnerability in older adults, leading to increased intensification of unhealthy habits, such as alcohol use. To effectively explore drinking among the elderly, the study includes five adults aged over sixty-five to assess, how much, where, when, with whom and why they drink alcohol. A qualitative method includes semi-structured interviews to obtain participants’ in-depth motivations and representations of drinking. Four themes were extracted using thematic analysis; contradictions in drinking motivations, gendered perceptions surrounding alcohol, social locations of drinking and events leading to increased drinking. Two subthemes were identified from the drinking events: regular drinking occasions and exceptional life events. The findings suggest that drinking among the elderly comes from a perspective of enjoyment and sociability. Alcohol was not a focal aspect of participants’ lives, but provided positive experiences and acted as a coping mechanism during events such as; divorce, retirement and bereavement. It is acknowledged that the study is small and requires additional qualitative research containing a larger elderly sample, including those who are sociable and active, and those who are not, to study the topic further.

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