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Email Us: info@wellwellusa.com

Is Retirement Healthy?

It Depends on The Person

Working during retirement

By Sean Zucker –

Many older Americans are simply preparing to work for the rest of their lives. To be exact, one in four U.S. adults aged 50 and older have never planned to retire, according to AARP. Reasons differ on why they are holding on.

Regardless, it is definitely a split decision on whether working virtually forever is beneficial or catastrophic to overall health. Ultimately, the answer is individualized and probably depends on a variety of personal factors.

The retirement news came out of an AARP annual Financial Trends Survey that was conducted earlier this year. It did produce some optimism too. Just over 40 percent of participants over 30 believed their finances would be better in 12 months, outperforming responses from 2023 and 2022.

However, only 36 percent reported having enough money in retirement to be financially secure if they continue saving at their current rate. Another third noted they would not have enough money for retirement, while an additional 31 percent were uncertain.

The most alarming result was seen when 25 percent of Americans over the age of 50 declared they would never retire due largely to financial considerations. Economic considerations aside, experts are sharply divided when extended working is healthy.

This debate isn’t new. In fact, it previously led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to examine the impact of working past retirement. The CDC did this by tracking the health of roughly 83,000 people over 15 years. In the process, CDC researchers compared the health of those who worked past age 65 to those who retired.

The study did conclude that working older adults were generally healthier than unemployed older adults. In fact, people who worked past age 65 were found to be about three times more likely to report being in good health and about half as likely to have serious health problems, such as cancer or heart disease.

This data was preceded by research out of Oregon State University that followed nearly 3,000 people entering retirement age over an 18-year period. During this time, 234 healthy and 262 unhealthy retirees died. In terms of healthy retirees, a retirement age of just one year older correlated with an 11 percent decrease in the risk of mortality for any reason aside from various socio-demographic, lifestyle and health factors. Similarly, delaying retirement was linked with a reduced risk of death among retirees in poor health. None of the socio-demographic variables tracked were discovered to alter the relationship between retirement age and all-cause mortality.

Ultimately, the study concluded: “Early retirement may be a risk factor for mortality and prolonged working life may provide survival benefits among U.S. adults.”

Unfortunately, these studies don’t appear to cover the entire picture. As promising as that all may appear for aging workaholics, research focused on the drawbacks of working past retirement age is as alarming as those other studies are encouraging. One study out of University College London looked at how avoiding retirement from demanding jobs can devastate mental health later in life. Specifically, researchers analyzed data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) to examine the impact of working conditions on the mental health of retirees aged 60 or older across 13 European countries.

Their data revealed that individuals who experienced psychosocial stress or held low occupational positions during mid-life, defined as between the ages of 40 and 55, were more likely to report depressive symptoms in retirement or after age 60. Men with unstable career trajectories or involuntary job loss also faced elevated risks of depression later in life. These associations persisted even after accounting for pre-mid-life health and social standing underscoring the strength of this connection.

AARP adds that the trend toward working past retirement age is growing. In fact, it notes that six in ten Americans between the ages of 60 and 64 were still working at least part-time in 2022. Two decades earlier, barely half of that age group remained employed. When moving to between ages 65 and 69, 38 percent continued to work. The organization warns that this can have a negative impact not just on health but also on personal finances as the more an aging individual makes the less they’ll receive in Social Security payments.

The split decision remains in effect.





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