Rising Concern Over Seniors and Alcoholism

Steve McDonald By Steve McDonald, Bond Strategist, The Oxford Club

Two-Minute Retirement Solution

Since moving to the retirement belt, I’ve had two big surprises… the incredible social scene and alcohol.

Neither ever stop!

On our nightly strolls around our neighborhood, just about every person we meet asks us in for a drink or makes us promise we’ll come to get to know each other.

Our neighborhood has a party every other Thursday night that attracts between 40 and 50 people. And it gets larger every time.

Every volunteer activity has at least two major events per year and regular get-togethers for the staff.

In the local restaurants and pubs, it’s rare that we don’t meet a new person at dinner and exchange phone numbers and emails.

And our immediate neighbors are great! Several nights a week, we’re either at their homes or they’re at ours.

There are nights when Eileen pleads with me to stay home for a rest.

We moved to Florida to get away from the cold, high taxes and congestion – and get closer to family. But we never expected to fall into a world of so many great, interesting people. It has been a huge bonus.

But then there’s the alcohol…

The best way to describe my neighborhood? “Happy hour is at 5, and the door’s always open.”

My brother who lives in a different part of Florida in a big retirement center says it’s no different where he is.

I thought there was a lot of drinking in the brokerage business. The retirement belt isn’t far behind.

Every event has an open bar. Every bar has a “drink of the night.” Every invite is centered on drinks.

Alcohol is everywhere, and everyone is drinking.

And sometimes I’m concerned.

Medical experts tell us that low-risk drinking means no drinking at all. But they also tell us that moderate consumption – one drink per day for women and two for men – can actually have protective benefits from cancer and cardiovascular disease.

But the word “moderate” is the issue. What’s a moderate drink?

According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP), 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits and 12 ounces of beer are considered moderate amounts of alcohol.

I seriously doubt that the consumption levels of most of the people at our parties are fitting that bill.

If I enforce that standard at our next soiree, I am going to save a bundle on booze but probably lose some friends.

Retirement gives us lots of freedom… no kids, no job, no boss, no alarm clocks.

You don’t have to get up the next morning and be your chipper best. That means you have a lot more free time to sip wine or have a few more beers than usual. And believe me, that’s exactly what everyone is doing.

I have to admit it is fun, but alcoholism is on the rise in the retirement community. In fact, a study by the National Institutes of Health suggests that the rate of binge drinking (four or more drinks within two hours) among women ages 60 and older is increasing 3.7% annually.

Trends like these can turn our golden years into nightmares.

The ODPHP has a nasty habit of being right, so I’m taking the moderate thing to heart and staying home more nights.

Good investing,