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The rise of the sozzled 'Saga Lout'

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British old timers are eschewing the delights of a nice cup of tea in favour of a drop of the hard stuff, an alcohol abuse expert has claimed.

Dr Peter Rice has dubbed the binge-drinking grey panthers "Saga Louts", the Evening Standard reports, and warns that "drink problems in the over 65s are on the increase". Accordingly, he says he's noted a "a significant rise in the number of older people being treated in hospital for a range of serious drink-related disorders over the last few years".

The average Saga Lout is described as retired and with enough cash to hit the liquor, having "developed a taste for drinking at home in the 1960s and 1970s".

Rice warned: "Older people's drinking has not had the same public awareness as young people's drinking. The trend in young people seems to be improving slightly, but in older people the numbers being admitted to hospital with alcohol related illnesses are increasing. This is just the tip of one big iceberg and the situation seems to be worsening."

Readers are, however, assured that they're unlikely to be done over by mobile-thieving septuagenarian hoodies rampaging through inner city shopping centres astride stolen mobility scooters. Rice added: "It should be stressed that the Saga Louts are not behaving in a particularly disruptive or anti-social way. This is a silent phenomenon happening in the home, but it because of the health implications it is also a serious one."

Campaigning group Alcohol Concern estimates that "more than one million over 65 year olds are drinking at unsafe levels - a 75 per cent rise in women and a 31 per cent rise in men since the early 1990s".

A spokesman for the organisation offered: "Sensible drinking is advisable at any age, but we are concerned that efforts to reduce drinking have only targeted younger people while the number of older drinkers has risen. Steps are needed to help older drinkers, especially men." ®

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