How much is too much for older people to drink?

Older adults are advised to not drink any more than the recommended daily and weekly amounts for adults (as advised in HPA’s low-risk alcohol drinking advice).

These are the limits to reduce your long-term health risks from drinking alcohol.

For healthy women, it is:

  • no more than two standard drinks a day
  • no more than 10 standard drinks a week
  • at least two alcohol-free days per week.

For healthy men, it is:

  • no more than three standard drinks a day
  • no more than 15 standard drinks a week
  • at least two alcohol-free days per week.

You may find that you are more comfortable drinking much less. Or you may choose to drink no alcohol at all.

Your rate of drinking, body type and genetic makeup, age, existing health problems, and medication use can all affect how much you can drink.

Everyone’s different. Check with your doctor, pharmacist or another health professional for advice specific to you.

When not to drink alcohol

You should not drink alcohol if you’re about to:

  • operate machinery
  • drive a vehicle (including a mobility scooter)
  • do anything that is risky or requires skill.

You should also not drink alcohol if you feel unwell, depressed, tired, or cold as it could make things worse.

Go to HPA’s low-risk alcohol drinking advice

How do I know how much alcohol I am drinking?

Drinks are sometimes stronger than we think.

When you pour an alcoholic drink at home, you’re probably pouring different amounts every time. The sizes of glasses and the amount of alcohol poured in bars and restaurant can also vary a lot.

The standard drinks measure is a simple way to work out how much alcohol you are drinking. One standard drink contains equals 10 grams of pure alcohol.

All bottles of wine, beer, cider and spirits and all cans and casks are required to have standard drinks content on the labels. Look out for wording about standard drinks or for the standard drinks image with a number inside. By checking the standard drinks label, you’ll have a good idea of how many drinks you are serving out of each bottle, can or cask.

Go to the What’s a standard drink? section for more detailed information and advice

Go to the Guide to standard drinks interactive tool

Go to the Can you pour a standard drink? interactive tool