According to the government's drug and addiction expert Mechthild Dyckmans, at least 400,000 Germans over 60 are dependent on alcohol.
Among old people who receive round-the-clock care, either in a nursing home or at home, one in seven are addicted to drugs or alcohol, Dyckmans told the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper.
“These are alarming figures,” Dyckmans said, while pointing out that the number or elderly with addictions will only be increase in coming years as the population ages.
While excessive drinking is often viewed as a problem plaguing young people, statistics show that trends are going in the opposite direction.
About 26,000 people between 10 to 20 had to be treated for acute alcohol poisoning in 2010, 400 fewer than the year before. But 12,350 over 60 received treatment for alcohol poisoning in 2010, an increase of 400.
Currently projects are underway to train doctors and nurses about addiction problems faced by their older patients, but Dyckmans told the Rundschau that more attention still needs to be paid to problems unique to the elderly.
She is due next year to release a new national strategy paper on combatting drug addiction.