Many people associate retirement with finishing work. They picture long walks on the beach, hooking up the caravan to the 4WD, or taking some time to find new hobbies. After all, haven’t you spent a good part of your life dreaming about not having to work anymore?
Haven’t you counted down the days until nine to five was replaced with recreation and relaxation?
Well before you start packing up your desk, take into account recent research that indicates that retirees who continue to work in either a part-time or full-time capacity actually have an excellent quality of life with better physical and mental health than their non-working counterparts.
A study by researchers from the University of Maryland and published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology
concluded that retirees who continued working in a related field to their previous career were the best off in terms of mental health.
Closer to home, a study from Griffith University’s Centre for Work, Organisation and Well Being has looked into the reasons why men and women choose to continue working past retirement – and not surprisingly their motivations are different. The study found that women value the social interaction that working provided, while men found the work itself important.
Other studies have also supported the idea that working after retirement is good for you. A long term study of men and women since the 1920s suggested that working after retirement was associated with living longer. The participants joined the study at age 70 and were tracked for 14 years by gerontology researchers from the Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus in Jerusalem.
After controlling for individuals’ health at the beginning of the study, the researchers found that whether a person was still alive after 12 years was strongly associated with whether they had been actively working or were fully retired. Among the 1,000 people studied, those who continued to work at age 70 and beyond were 2.5 times as likely to be alive at age 82 as those who had retired and were not working at the beginning of the study.
Another study showed that losing a job at an older age can be devastating to health. Yale researchers followed 4,220 workers, ages 51 to 61, for 6 years. During the study period, 457 workers lost their jobs. Being laid off close to retirement increased the risk for stroke by three times, according to the study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.