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Slouching toward geezerdom
Want to savor your retirement years? Then dream big, eat wisely and develop the financial acumen of Ben Bernanke. That’s the distilled advice from three new “geezer guides” for all those Baby Boomers now shuffling along the path to the Abyss.
Living the dreamRobert and Patricia Gussin’s What’s Next . . . for You? is more how-we-did-it than how-you-can-do-it. In realizing their ongoing dreams, money never seems to be a problem for the Gussins. Both are physicians who retired in 2000 from well-paying executive posts at subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson. He was 62, she “a few years younger.” With money in the bank, their kids gone and homes on Long Island and Longboat Key, Florida, the Gussins could have spent their twilight years in a supine position. Instead, both took up writing—she thrillers, he humor. This led, indirectly, to them forming their own fully staffed book publishing company. In 2002, they once again demonstrated their boundless interests by buying a working vineyard in New Zealand—and the villa that went along with it. Apart from overseeing these two thriving new businesses, the Gussins also volunteer as health providers for low-income seniors. Their stamina is simply epic. While most retirees are less wealthy, less connected, less educated and less energetic than this couple, their experiences nonetheless demonstrate that retirement doesn’t have to lead to a mental or an emotional fadeout. Super foods for super healthDr. William Sears’ Prime-Time Health, co-written with Martha Sears, is billed as “a scientifically proven plan for feeling young and living longer.” At the heart of Sears’ life-extending regimen is the wise consumption of 16 “super foods”: seafood (especially salmon), berries (especially blueberries), spinach, nuts, olive oil, broccoli, oatmeal, flaxseed meal, avocados, pomegranate juice, tomatoes, tofu, yogurt, red onions, garlic and beans and lentils. He explains how each food improves the functioning of specific organs and how to maintain a dietary balance. There are also tips on exercise and a colossally unimaginative chapter on how to have “better (and more) sex.” Sears could have done more to address the concerns of aging vegetarians who have qualms about eating fish. Still, his science is convincing and his tone reassuring. Thinking aheadThe Bogleheads’ Guide To Retirement Planning, compiled and edited by Taylor Larimore, Mel Lindauer, Richard A. Ferri and Laura F. Dogu, takes its title from—and bases its investment strategies on—the teachings of John C. Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group. Consequently, there is no one-size-fits-all schematic. Instead, there are discussions of major financial instruments, from savings accounts and IRAs to Social Security, and how each applies to people of differing ages, incomes and retirement aspirations. The most accessible part of the book is the “Pearls of Wisdom” segment that offers such all-purpose economic maxims as “It’s what you keep, not what you earn” and “Don’t invest in things you don’t understand.” Given the time it takes to digest and adapt other people’s solutions, perhaps the best strategy is just to keep on working. Edward Morris, unretired and unrepentant, reviews from Nashville.