After years of hard work, many people celebrate retirement with raised glasses, toasting to a successful career and to a future of relaxation. When everyone goes home and the cake is cleaned, some retirees don’t put the glass down. A recent Cornell University study has shown retirees at high risk for alcohol abuse. An estimated six million people aged 55 and up will have an alcohol abuse disorder by 2020. These older adults face a variety of challenges once their lives shift away from work.
Many retirees don’t plan on doing anything after they leave the workforce. The newly freed 8+ hours a day become empty. Spouses and friends may still hold jobs and are unable to spend time with the retiree. Instead of filling the day with volunteering, a part-time job, or a hobby, retirees may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Drinking excessively during the day and at night may be a way for the retiree to numb the boredom and purposelessness.
Such purposelessness can also lead to depression. Many retirees may feel abandoned by family and friends. Their own and others’ declining health can weigh heavily on a retiree’s outlook on life. And, although death can occur at any time, retirees see more of their loved ones passing on. They turn to alcohol to deal with emotional pain and change their true mood.
Whether one or both spouses are retired, a marriage’s dynamic changes in this new stage of life. Spouses may not hold the same expectations for each other during retirement and must spend more time in each other’s company. Drinking becomes a way to escape the pressure and “getaway.”
We try our best to plan for retirement. Sometimes life gets the best of our plans. Unexpected costs can come in the form of housing issues, medical bills, or a vacation has gone awry. Financial worries may even stem from the need to provide for children or grandchildren. Alcohol becomes a way to temporarily forget about their worries but ultimately places a huge financial burden on a family.
A retiree may have struggled with the above challenges or a variety of other life traumas before he or she retired. These lingering feelings become harder to ignore after retirement. An existing drinking habit may worsen, or become more apparent.
Remember: You are not alone in this struggle. Millions of retirees struggle with similar issues. Many of these ask for help and learn to cope with life’s challenges in healthier ways. Embrace the golden years without a bottle. If you or someone you love has a worrying drinking or drug habit, please call Bradford Health Services. We are here for you. 1-888-577-0012