How to Find Your Purpose During Retirement

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

My interview on PBS regarding retirement got top ranking on

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.


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.

What Happens to our Dreams of Retirement

Excerpt from: A Couple’s Guide to Happy Retirement


When couples begin to talk about their dreams for retirement, they may be shocked to discover that each person harbors a very different dream; they may learn that their goals are so different as to be in conflict.

These frank discussions may suggest that you don’t know the person you married as well as you thought, and your spouse can even become an obstacle rather than an ally in achieving your retirement goals. People also frequently find out that their shared goals don’t have the same priority to them as individuals. These belated realizations can lead to a state of marital disappointment.

International aspects of retirement

I just came back for 2 weeks vacation in India. I met a few couples where both spouses were retired and since they heard about my book we started having conversations about what happened in their relationship as a result of retirement.   I was amazed to find out that retirees in urban areas in India face the same issues as American retirees. Women often resent having their husbands under foot. Husbands expect to be taken care of and feel upset when their expectations are not being met. Adult married children would like to see their parents giving more  babysitting – help than what the parents are willing.  In spite of religious and cultural differences between these 2 countries, very often marital dynamics are more similar than different and people face and struggle with the same problems.

Grandparenting Styles

When people retire, their relationships with children, grandchildren, and other family members can be affected, a little or a lot, and for better or worse. While retirement frees a couple to spend more time with family members, it also can produce stress and conflict if the spouses aren’t in sync about how much time should be spent with the kinfolk. It’s a mistake to assume that everyone welcomes retirement as an opportunity to spend as much time as possible with offspring.
As we welcome the holiday season soon, here’s a look at several grandparenting styles, Our book, “A Couple’s guide to Happy Retirement,” includes many more along with explanations of family dynamics regarding these issues.

Common Grandparenting Styles:

• Formal. In this role, the grandparent is interested in the grandchild, provides occasional treats, but doesn’t invest large amounts of time in grandparenting or offer child-rearing advice to parents. A clear distinction is made between the role of parent and grandparent.

• Surrogate parent. Here there is no clear distinction between parent and grandparent. Typically, a grandparent—usually a grandmother—takes care of the grandchild, particularly if both parents are employed.

• Fun seeker. This style is marked by an informal, playful relationship between grandparent and grand-child. When they interact, it is often around games and other fun activities. This type of grandparent is a “buddy” to the child.

• Resource. This grandparent dispenses wisdom, teaches skills, helps with homework, and so on. Grandfathers often take on this style.

• Distant. This style is characterized by a distance between grandparent and grandchild, one that often goes beyond geographical distance. The grandparent sees the grandchild infrequently, usually on holidays or other special occasions, and there isn’t much emotional warmth.

• Safe haven. This style is characterized by warmth, closeness and emotional support. Again, regardless of geographical distance, the grandparents adoration, unconditional love and approval contributes to the development of a secure self in the grandchild.

For more see the book here, available for Kindle.