The Dark Side Of Retirement by Robert Laura
There is a hidden epidemic taking place within the shadows of retirement. It’s a chilling reality that will impact boomers and their families more deeply than any economic recession or market crash. The idyllic images of retirement – from long walks on the beach, to worldwide travel, to turning personal memoirs into a best seller – are being transformed into walks down a hospital hallway, seclusion, and obituaries. It’s the dark side of retirement, where powerful forces such as addiction, mental illness, and suicide are quickly becoming the dominant factors for which boomers need to plan and prepare.
This may seem surprising, but these threats are a direct result of the path boomers blazed over the years. They were the first generation to engage in the widespread use of recreational drugs, and the first group for which a wide variety of prescription medications were readily available and accepted as treatment for nearly every alignment. Baby boomers are also at a critical stage in life where stress is mounting due to natural aging, bodily malfunctions, grief, loss and the financial strain that often stems from caring for aging parents and adult children.
Furthermore, this shadowy downside of retirement appears to be exacerbated by the fact that today’s seniors are from a generation that stressed self-reliance … a trait characterized by a reluctance to discuss financial and/or personal and health matters. This attribute, supported by research, suggests that contemporary seniors tend to blame themselves for their illnesses, don’t want to be a family burden, and worry that treatment will be too costly. Boomers today face an iceberg style future, where 90% of what really takes place in retirement lies below the surface and out of mainstream conversations and retirement planning.
The statistics are startling and reveal a dark side of retirement dominated by addiction, depression, and even suicide:
–It is expected that, by 2020, the number of retirees with alcohol and other drug problems will leap 150 per cent to 4.4 million – up from only 1.7 million in 2001.
–According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the proportion of older people treated for a combination of cocaine and alcohol abuse tripled between 1992 and 2008. For this group, cocaine abuse in 2008 was the leading cause of hospital admissions involving drugs (26.2 per cent), with abuse of prescription drugs a close second at 25.8 per cent.
–The National Institutes of Health reports that, of the 35 million Americans age 65 or older, nearly 2 million suffer from full-blown depression. Another 5 million suffer from less severe forms of this illness. Women are at a greater risk for depression because of biological factors such as hormonal changes and the stress that comes with maintaining relationships or caring for loved ones or sick children.
–Depression is the single most significant risk factor for suicide among the elderly. Sadly, many of those who commit suicide did, in fact, reach out for help — 20 per cent see a doctor only on the day they die, 40 per cent the same week and 70 per cent the same month.
–Suicide rates are highest among people over the age of 65, according to the American Association of Suicidology (AAS). That age group makes up 12.5 per cent of the population yet accounts for 15.9 per cent of all suicides. White men older than age 65 take their own life at almost triple the overall rate, and are eight times more likely to kill themselves than women in the same age group.
This is one reason why I often compare retirement to an iceberg, because 90% of what really takes place lies below the surface and out of mainstream conversations and retirement planning.
The Bright Side Creating a successful transition from the workplace to life in retirement requires people to embrace the fact that for every hour invested in traditional retirement planning an equal amount of time should be spent on issues such as:
- Replacing one’s work identity
- Establishing a healthy and active lifestyle
- Staying socially connected and involved
- Resolving relationship wants and needs before they turn into points of conflict
Do you want to avoid the dark side of retirement and make sure you create a happy, healthy, and connected retirement? Join us Aug 20th for our first International Naked Retirement Webinar
Your Invited to join us for a fun and creative approach to retirement that focuses on planning for the everyday life aspects of it. Learn how to make your retirement a time of life that is truly meaningful, answer the three most powerful retirement questions that will change it forever, re-invent yourself, prepare for important conversations to strengthen your relationships, and develop wellness habits for your body, mind, and spirit.
By Robert Laura
Robert Laura is the Retirement Activist who is committed to changing the way people think about and prepare for every aspect of retirement. His nationally syndicated columns at Forbes.com and Financial Advisor magazine reflect his ground breaking efforts to challenge the status quo of traditional retirement planning. As a former social worker and certified personal trainer turned money manager and author, he has found that retirement is among the most fascinating, yet least understood, phases of life. Through interviews with celebrities, professional athletes, entertainers, leading experts, and his own clients, he’s develop a powerful message to make the most of everyday life in retirement. His objective is simple: to help people create a no-regrets retirement plan.
Robert is the founder of RetirementProject.org and authored Naked Retirement, as well as a number of guides to help individuals succeed in this next chapter of life. In addition to his own writings, he frequently appears in major business media such as Wall Street Journal, CNBC, and Investor’s Business Daily, Yahoo Finance, The Street, and more.