DEAR HARRIETTE: I got a letter from an old friend that was very disturbing to me. She is at retirement age and has to keep working, like most people I know, because she doesn’t have ample retirement money. She is worried about how she will take care of herself when she gets older, because she is unmarried and doubts that she can work forever. She sounded so sad. I don’t have any real answers for her, but I do want to be of support. What do you say to somebody who will be broke before she dies? -- Loss for Words
DEAR LOSS FOR WORDS: This is an increasingly common and worrisome reality for many seniors. For a variety of reasons -- health being at the top of the list -- elders in America, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, find themselves in dire need of support at a time when they feel most vulnerable. The good news is that when people truly are in financial distress, there are government programs that are designed to help them. This means anything from vouchers for public housing to Medicaid -- plus many more. You have to do your research, but tell your friend there is support out there. Go to seniorliving.org/research/government-aid for more information.
It is also true that many seniors work well past the age of 65 and can have lucrative jobs. For quite a few seniors, that means reinventing themselves and possibly making a pivot in the road to pursue a different line of work. Encore is a company that pairs seasoned professionals with not-for-profits. For 10 years, it has successfully matched professionals with fulfilling roles that sometimes turn into full-time work. Visit encore.org/fellowships for more information. Your friend can also go to aarp.org to learn about benefits and opportunities available to people over 50.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My wife is a very attractive woman, at least to me. I love how she dresses and pays attention to how she looks. She is a professional woman, so she is smart and great at what she does, too. I have found that some of my male friends don’t like it so much when we all get together and my wife seems to stand out among the women. It’s not her fault that she is a pretty great package. I know I’m proud of her, but I worry about how some of the other husbands and wives react to her. Sometimes it seems like a competition. Other times it looks like they flock together and ignore her.
I want my wife to be happy, and I worry that she isn’t comfortable hanging out with these people, even though they are our principal friend group. What can I do to support her? -- Be Nice
DEAR BE NICE: Talk to your wife. Make sure she is feeling like she needs or wants help in this situation. While you notice that some people seem envious of her, she may not pay it any attention. Don’t make assumptions. Find out how she feels and if she wants you to intervene in any way, or even if she wants to branch out and start to form an additional friend group. If she is OK, you will need to start overlooking the pettiness. If she is not, consider adding new friends to your social calendar. Don’t call these people out. It will only make things worse.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)