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6 Reasons to Ditch the Booze after 60

By Janet Gourand April 04, 2023 Health and Fitness

Many of us have looked forward to retirement during those busy years of managing a career and bringing up a family. It’s easy to glide into retirement forgetting that it’s a major life transition.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of drinking more alcohol at this stage in our lives. In fact, studies have shown that these days Baby Boomers are drinking more than younger people.

Why Retirement Can Lead to Alcohol Problems

We wake up one morning and everything has changed. It can feel a bit like “falling off a cliff” – no structure, no demands on our time, no children to distract us, no career highs or lows to keep us engaged. If we feel bored it can be easy to have a glass of wine with lunch and then another one with dinner and before we know it, we’ve got through a bottle.

We may feel we’ve lost our identity and status when we retire. We miss our colleagues who are still too busy at work to see us. Our career created meaning and purpose in our lives… and now it has gone.

Who actually are we, and want do we want out of the years that lie ahead?

Retirement often brings financial stress as well as health problems. Alcohol can be a way to self-medicate to cope with anxiety and discomfort.

Alcohol Guidelines for Seniors

The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has created specific guidelines for seniors:

“Those who do not take medication and are in good health should limit their total alcohol consumption to no more than seven drinks per week.”

So that’s fine if you are happy with one small glass of wine but many of us can’t stop at one. My recommendation for those people is to ditch the booze completely because quitting is SO much easier than wasting your time and energy trying to “moderate.”

6 Reasons to Ditch the Booze after 60

Decreased Tolerance

As we age our bodies become less efficient at processing alcohol. That glass of wine at lunchtime will go straight to our heads and a couple of glasses in the evening will result in poor sleep. Non-drinkers get 7 cycles of REM sleep, drinkers average only 2 which means an ongoing feeling of fatigue.

Increased Risk of Falls

During my long drinking career I took quite a few tumbles, even falling down a flight of stairs once! Apart from a few bruises, I was usually fine. If I was still drinking now that I’m in my 70s I could easily break a bone. Alcohol negatively affects our bone density which we need to preserve as we age.

Interactions with Medication

Older adults are much more likely to be taking multiple medications, which can interact with alcohol and lead to dangerous side effects. At the very best alcohol will cancel out any benefits from the meds, particularly anti-depressant and anxiety meds.

Increased Risk of Cognitive Decline

I finally gave up drinking because I was getting serious blackouts when I lost several hours of the previous day. My doctor told me this was a pre-cursor for brain damage. There is also an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Increased Risk of Liver Damage

We all know that alcohol use can lead to liver damage but this is particularly dangerous for older adults who may have liver damage due to age-related changes.


Every glass of wine we drink robs our bodies of four glasses of water. As we age we naturally have less water in our bodies so the health risks of alcohol will increase exponentially. Less water in our bodies means that we are less able to dilute the toxic effects of alcohol.

Tips: How to be Retired… and Happy!

In addition to ditching the booze, what else can we do to make sure that our later years are a time of joy and relaxation?

If our career was the main source of meaning and purpose in our lives then we have to find another way to self-fulfillment.

It’s important to realise that we are not automatically going to be “happy” now that we have retired.

In fact, our brains are not wired to make us happy all the time, our brains are wired to motivate us to survive. They motivate us to take a step towards a goal and feel happy when we achieve it. Of course, that good feeling is transitory, and we’ll need to take another step to release it again.

Think of our ancestors who were wired to look for food and got a dopamine hit when they spotted an animal they could eat.

So, just as our ancestors had to go hunting to activate their happy chemicals, we have to have something to aim for. We have to have a goal – so find a project.

Use your extra free time to experiment. Learn a language, take art classes, volunteer, if you are fit then train for a marathon – the possibilities are endless.

Check out my article Don’t Wait for Happiness to Strike!

Don’t waste your energy in retirement trying to control your alcohol consumption – ditch it completely and redirect that energy to finding new interests that will keep your happy brain chemicals nicely triggered!

Need Some Support?

If you’d like a bit of support to change your relationship with alcohol then check out Tribe Sober. Sixty & Me readers can claim a 20% discount on Annual Membership by using the coupon code “sixty” when they sign up.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Did you change your drinking habits when you retired? Are you drinking more than when you were working? Were you aware of the health risks of alcohol as we get older?

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I’d like to give up my glass of wine with dinner if I could figure out what else to drink? No sugar or caffeine- and will drink water but would like something else? any suggestions?

Nancy Kelly

I felt the same! And I used to have a glass of wine while reading before bed. And I hate sodas. So I made a conscious effort to cultivate a taste for herbal teas. And it really worked. Now before bed I have a cup or 2 of Bengal Spice or Apple Cinnamon. It comes in little cardboard boxes instead of glass or plastic like wine, so more environment friendly, which is important to me.

janet gourand

not sure what country you are in Linda but there are many choices of alcohol free drinks these days – check out the Dry Goods Beverage Company if you are in the US


Water with your evening meal is best but there are lots of caffeine free teas on the market. I like organic chamomile and lavender tea. It tastes lovely and helps with relaxation and sleep.


I would like to know the source of your information “every glass of wine we drink robs our bodies of four glasses of water”.

janet gourand

Hi Elizabeth I can’t remember exactly what study that came from but there is no doubt that alcohol is a duiretic – another reason why it’s so difficult to stop at just one – now that I drink alcohol free wine I never want a second glass!


I just stopped drinking on March 6, 2023.
I feel better already!!

janet gourand

fantastic Linda – and congrats on your month of sobriety – it’s quite easy to start this journey alone but not so easy to stay on track without accountability and a community to cheer you on! please check out the benefits of being a Tribe Sober member best wishes Janet (


I had to quit drinking alcohol because I developed gastritis (inflammation of stomach lining). I lost 40 pounds. But I promise you don’t want this health issue to lose weight!! I didn’t know what was going on until I had an endoscopy at same time I had a colonoscopy. This is when I was diagnosed with gastritis. April 9, 2023 wil be 2 years alcohol free!! I only miss it when I’m around people having cocktails! But, I really don’t want a drink any other time. It really has been easy to stop consuming alcohol. I think I’ll start ordering mock tails when I’m with a group ordering cocktails. Mock tails are becoming popular!! So, yes, I’m cool with not having alcohol!! God bless everyone. I will be 72 in May!!

janet gourand

fantastic Margaret – well done on your sobriety! I am the same age as you and loving my alcohol free lifestyle! when we drink alcohol our immune system flares up to cope – to protect us from this toxin – so regular drinking puts us in a permanent state of chronic imflammation!

Janet Trenaman

Thanks for this great article. At age sixty I was questioning my relationship with alcohol .I I found the The alcohol Experiment online and I did the 30 days without it. The things I learned about what it does to us and how it is advertised as a great time and needed for every event is crazy.

I am 63 now and retired and my new job is taking care of me.
I attend my local gym and do some cardio and weight training and see many the same age. doing the same thing.
I know I am on the right path as I feel better and sleep is so important to cleanse and heal our bodies at night.
I am excited with the research on longevity and the science of how to live long and happy lives especially with out drugs or alcohol.
Spring is here ladies so get out and enjoy a walk in the sunshine. This is a great time for a new beginning .

Shaggy Maggie

Same page as you, Janet.
My full time job is taking care of me now, and it’s the best job I ever had.

janet gourand

nice one Maggie!

janet gourand

fantastic Janet – once we learn what alcohol does to our bodies and our brains we are not so keen to drink it! If you are interested in joining a community of sober (and trying to be sober) mature ladies then please check out our Tribe! best wishes Janet

The Author

Janet Gourand is a writer, a podcaster and a recovery coach. She quit drinking in 2015 at the age of 63. She founded Tribe Sober which enables people to change their relationship with alcohol. Tribe Sober is an international community which offers a membership program.

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