Why I wrote this book

Why I wrote A Couple’s Guide to Happy Retirement:

My goal is to help retirees find a way to live together happily ever after, recognizing that how people interpret that phrase may have changed a bit.

Most people are searching for the right mix of money with meaning, of profits with purpose, of using their many experiences in ways that aren’t just contained in photo albums but are significant and memorable.

In other words, they seek an intersection of continued income, with purpose and impact, something they will be remembered for.

Sara Yogev, Ph.D.

Introductions

Before I get into really blogging on this website, I wanted to take a moment to explain why I find this field of study so fascinating and why I have this book and this blog in the first place.

In the same way that couples marital dynamics change following the birth of a first child, they change again in retirement.  Yet, unfortunately, people are often totally unaware and unprepared for these changes.  Research from various academic domains all consistently report that at least 1/3 of retirees experience difficulties with the transition to retirement and often tend to be depressed and lost.  Often, for the first 2 years in retirement, there is a notable decline in marital satisfaction for both husbands and wives. Newly retired individuals report the highest marital conflict and lowest marital satisfaction scores compared with those who are retired for a long time or are not yet retired. While most people put a lot of effort and energy into financial planning for retirement, they often neglect planning for the psychological aspects of this life stage which, thanks to modern technology and medicine, can last 20-30 years, or even more!

Planning for retirement is the second most important factor after health according to people who express satisfaction with retirement.  The planning must involve financial and psychological/emotional aspects.  In order to avoid being part of the” gray divorce” phenomenon (divorce among those 50 years old and older) I strongly recommend that you start preparing and planning.  Informing ones’ self, by reading books and other materials about this life stage, is the best way to begin preparing for this important life change.  “A Couple’s Guide to Happy Retirement” is my contribution, and I believe a terrific resource, for those looking to better prepare themselves for the transition into retirement.  “A Couple’s Guide to Happy Retirement” will be available October 2012.  And, of course, there will be plenty of information about the book, as well as other retirement related resources, made readily available on this website/blog.  I genuinely am excited and look forward to sharing some of the important and intriguing insights I collected through my research and the development of the book.

How to retire without driving your spouse crazy

The Wall Street Journal in their Encore section on November 28 2016 had an article about the above mentioned subject and my book was quoted there. Here is the link to the article
http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-to-retire-without-driving-your-spouse-crazy-1480302300
enjoy reading

How men and women retire

An interesting article in The Boston Globe by Ami Albernaz.

Just Between Us – Must-Know Secrets for Couples About Retirement

Listen to Sara’s talk with Jackie Black, PH.D., BCC about Couples Retirement on WebTalkRadio on Oct 19, 2015:

http://webtalkradio.net/internet-talk-radio/2015/10/19/just-between-us-must-know-secrets-for-couples-about-retirement/

How to Find Your Purpose During Retirement

Sara recently provided tips on how to stay happier in retirement.  Read the full article at grandparents.com – here.

7 Important Questions to Ask Your Spouse Right Now

Sara was recently interviewed for this article in the March 17, 2015 Issue 764 newsletter published by the American Grandparents Association.  Click here for the full article.

Alcoholism in retirement age; what seniors need to know

When a person is retiring, the elimination of work as a life- structuring factor often reduces psychological wellbeing. Many retirees report loss of status, professional position, identity and employment based social support. For other it also means loss of life purpose. A significant proportion (10-25%) of older workers experience difficulties in adjustment to retirement and some resort to increased sometime even harmful alcohol drinking as a mean of coping with the losses. Common reasons given are; to cheer myself up, combat loneliness, relieve tension and boredom. In addition, since retirement means more leisure time and wider social liberties it too can encourages increased consumption. Several studies found that retirement leads to increased alcohol drinking and that alcoholism can rapidly advance in this age group. Indeed alcohol is the most common substance used by older adults with estimated 17% being problem drinkers and 22% among medical inpatient or emergency room admissions. A 2009 study found that among adults aged 75-85, 27.1% of women and 48.6% of men drank beyond recommended guidelines for their age. Thus the general consensus is that retirement is a potential trigger for new or increased alcohol use disorders among older adults.

However the results are inconsistent as others studies found no change or even decreased drinking as people experience less strain,( e.g. no need for alcohol as a relief from work related stress) and reduced social ties with colleagues who encourage drinking.

The National institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the American Geriatric Society recommend no more than 7 standard drinks per week and/or 2 drinks per one occasion for adults over 65 years old. The reason for what might seem as low recommended number of drinks is that even small quantities of alcohol can have a significant impact on the health and functioning of older adults; as we age we metabolize alcohol differently so we become more sensitive to its effects and the same amount we used to drink when we were younger is going to cause more intoxication. More than the above recommended guidelines is considered at risk drinking, which might cause relationship difficulties or health complications like hypertension, damage to the heart and liver, and being more prone to accidents.

There a few terms one needs to be aware of when it comes to alcohol disorders;

  • Alcohol Misuse – drinking to the point of drunkenness.
  • Binge Drinking- periodic heavy drinking – for older adults it means more than 4 drinks for men and 3 for women.
  • Alcohol abuse – drinking in spite of adverse effect on physical or mental health, social interaction, on ability to meet commitments and obligations or daily functioning. It is defined by consequences not amount.
  • Alcohol dependence means craving for alcohol, or impaired control, or withdrawal symptoms or physical tolerance (i.e. needing increased amounts)Often individuals deny that they have an alcohol difficulty because only dependence is considered by them as a problem; so if they can stop drinking for a certain time period e.g. 2 months, they are convinced mistakenly that they don’t have an alcohol related problem not realizing that binge or abuse or even misuse is considered a disorder and health risk.

Since research studies about the relationship of alcoholism and retirement reported conflicting results as mentioned above ( I can’t explain here the reasons for that,) I find that it is more useful to look at what aspects of the retirement process influence increased drinking behavior.

Alcohol consumption in retirement is impacted by several factors;

  1. Reason for retiring; was it a voluntary one or was it involuntary “forced” retirement due to health issues or organization pressure. Forced retirement by the organization or other external reasons (spouse illness. The latter is more likely to be related to increase drinking as the individuals didn’t have time to plan for it and didn’t want it. Likewise, voluntary retirement due to one’s own health issues was also associated with increased consumption. However, voluntary retirement for non health ,but for internal reasons (e.g. want to retire so can travel more or spend more time with grand kids) was not associated with increased alcohol consumption.
  2. Social network; in some occupations there is heavy drinking culture making employees and retirees alike to be heavy or problematic drinkers. Also one social network of friends after retirement has an impact too. If your new social network has higher drinking norms than your prior ones, be careful.
  3. Work involvement, satisfaction and stress; leaving stressful work environments might result in less alcohol consumption after retirement while those leaving work that was rewarding, that they were very involved and/ or satisfied with, may lead to higher levels of alcohol after retirement.
  4. Age at retirement; Alcohol abuse is likely to be more severe among those who retire at a relatively young age 40-50 and among those who continue to work despite being eligible to retire. The study on this topic suggests that there seems to be an optimal time to retire from the individual perspective; workers who retire early or later than their optimal time, are likely to drink more as a way of coping with stressors in their life – e.g. retiring early due to health issues, or remaining employed due to financial reasons or among manual workers with advance age coping with the physical difficulty/pain they experience in their continued employment.
  5. Financial stress due to less available income in retirement.
  6. Marital problems; As we know 2/3 of retirees experience increased marital conflicts and lowered marital satisfaction in the first 2 years of retirement. (See the book “A Couples’ guide to happy retirement “). These difficulties might also trigger or aggravate alcohol misuse.
    In summary, retirement per se does not drives the relationship with alcohol abuse, but conditions that underlie the decision to retire and experiences before and after retirement are more important here. Older employees should be helped and prepared before they retire, for the stresses and losses that are likely to accompany retirement. The planning for and preparation to should take into account the individual perspective as well as the strains that retirement is likely to put on their marriages and changes that are likely to occur in their relationship with other close family members and friends . They also would benefit from strengthening the skills they will need to better cope with these stressors so that their adjustment to retirement would be easy and retirement won’t be a trigger for alcohol abuse.

The Perils of housework in retirement

My article about the perils of housework in retirement was published

by next avenue / PBS on November 27.

Here is the link to it.

http://www.nextavenue.org/article/2013-11/housework-creates-dustups-retired-couples

My interview on PBS regarding retirement got top ranking on marketwatch.com

Here is the link to the interview I had on 10/15/2013 with Richard Eisenberg from Next Avenue  ( a  PBS program  geared for grown ups who keep growing,  the 50+ population) about retirement- feel free to read and spread the word . Hope you will find it helpful.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-faces-a-married-couples-retirement-crisis-2013-10-15

 

Radio interview on Health, Wealth & Wisdom – 1470 AM WMGG (Tampa Bay, FL)

I’m glad to let you know that I had a radio interview on 5/30/13 at 4; 20pm EST with the above mentioned station about retirement issues. Topics that were discussed were how to find a new passion in retirement which I see as what I want to pass on,   thus breaking to word to    pass-I-on.  I stressed the importance of “engage as you age”. In addition   how do spouses create a new balance in their relationship as their dynamics and interactions change in retirement. The increased time together often causes increased conflicts and lower marital satisfaction and couples can take steps to avoid becoming part of the Gray Divorce trend.

Holiday stress

As the holidays are getting closer, parents of adults children (particularly those that are not living in the same area) are starting to make plans where to go, with whom to celebrate, what gifts to give etc. For retirees these questions often bring to the surface unresolved or difficult issues regarding how to split resources (time and money) among children.

Whom should be visit- can all of them be rewarded equally – do you give a bigger present to the child who is less financially successful or to the one that has helped so much more when you were sick. Do you let your son host the holiday dinner even thought you don’t get along with his wife and she is a lousy cook.  Usually it is not the item (should we fly to CA to be with child X family over Thanksgiving)   that is the cause of the conflict, rather the psychological meaning that each spouse attach to that item – not feeling connected with that child for example is at the core for the husband or worrying about the financial cost because the tickets are so expensive.

Reading the Chapters 5 and 8 in my book can help reduce the conflicts and better understand each other point of view.