Alcohol abuse and dependence in elderly persons is of growing social concern. The most consistent findings of cross-sectional and longitudinal studies are that the quantity and frequency of akohol consumption is higher in elderly men than in elderly uxrnzen, as is the prevalence of alcohol-related probkms. Most studies show a decrease with age in consumption and alcohol-related problems among heavy drinkers. Longitudinal studies show no changes in consumption among light drinkers. Elderly persons with lower incomes consume less alcohol than those with higher incomes. Hosp italized and outpatient populations have more problem drinkers, and the elderly alcoholic is at greater risk for medical and psychiatric comorbidity. About one-third to one-half of elderly alcoholics experience the onset of problem drinking in middle or late life. Outcomes seem to be better for those who have late-onset drinking and may be improved for those treated in same-age rather than mixed-age groups.