In his new book, Peter Bamberger urges Baby Boomers to "anticipate things happening unexpectedly so that you are more psychologically prepared ... if you're pushed out [of a job] ... especially if you like your job."
Titled, "Retirement and the Hidden Epidemic: The Complex Link Between Aging, Work Disengagement and Substance Misuse – and What To Do About It" (Oxford University Press), presents findings Mr. Bamberger hopes will provide an intervention framework for employers, policymakers, psychologists and others.
Bamberger, senior research scholar at Cornell's Smithers Institute for Alcohol-Related Workplace Studies, co-authored the book with ILR's McKelvey-Grant Professor Sam Bacharach, director of the Smithers Institute, after a 10-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health. As part of the research the team studied 1,100 retirement-age blue collar workers.
The authors discussed noted that they hope their findings will heighten awareness of retiree vulnerability to alcohol misuse.
"If you can kill the stigma, there's hope. This research points to that possibility," said Bamberger, professor of organizational behavior at the Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration, Tel Aviv University.
An estimated 10 to 17 percent of Americans ages 65 and older misuse alcohol, according to research the authors cite. The loss of structure, identity, peer networks and other factors in retirement complicate vulnerability to alcohol, along with aging bodies that intensify alcohol's impact, they said.
"It's not surprising they're looking for some way to self-medicate," Bamberger said. "Alcohol misuse by retirees is more complex than people think."
It also underscores, Bacharach said, "that vulnerability doesn't disappear, it continues through life. We have to be more sensitive to who we are."
"The good news is that people are looking into" alcohol misuse by retirees, he said, "and maybe that's the first step" in institutionalizing pre-retirement screening and other steps to prevent misuse.
Retirement is often experienced as a process in which "retirees" move in and out of the labor force, working full- or part-time, changing careers or starting their own businesses. Many move back into the labor force after retiring – a trend known as "bridge employment."
Source: Kathleen Ann Briggs and Mary Catt @ Medical Xpress