What do you fear about retirement?

Jan 1, 2008

Retiring Healthy and Happy

Certain retirement "experts" advocate that people change their retirement plan and work as long as possible instead of taking early retirement. This is supposed to keep their minds in better shape. In fact, working at a job, instead of retiring as early as possible, could have the opposite effect.

According to a recent study reported in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, British civil servants who retire as early as possible may have better mental health than their counterparts who stay on the job as long as possible. Researchers used questionnaires to compare civil servants who retired at 60 with those who kept working. Surprisingly, they found that mental health and agility improved among retirees but declined among workers. "Mental decline can be caused by chronic tress," stated one of the researchers, "and it is possible that such stress in some of those who continued to work accounted for the decline in mental functioning."

There may be a much better explanation for the decline in the decline in the retirees' mental health. In his essay Abolish Work: Workers of the World, Relax, Bob Black offered some food for thought: "You are what you do. If you do boring, stupid, monotonous work, chances are you'll end up boring, stupid, and monotonous."

On another note, there is still too much negativity about retirement. The results of a recently published RBC Retiring Boomers Poll found that only 56 percent of baby boomers nearing retirement believe the quality of their lives will improve during their retirement years. Interestingly, however, the RBC researchers found that 79 percent of Canadian retirees believe that the quality of their lives has improved after retirement.

For the 44 percent of people approaching retirement who think that their quality of live will be diminished, this is likely either a wealth or health matter. Yet retirement health is not directly related to retirement wealth. Fact is, many individuals approaching retirement overestimate how much money they will need to maintain an appropriate standard of living. At the same time, a lot of people are underestimating how well they can live in retirement.

According to the RBC poll, the great news is that about two thirds of retirees are continuing to live their lives at the same pace as when they were working. Undoubtedly, many of these happy retirees are trying to figure out how they had time for work when they still had a job. In another vein, the RBC researchers found that 90 percent of people in the "retirement window" (individuals aged 50 to 69) are concerned about health and wellness.

What's more, two-thirds of retirees spend more time looking after themselves than they did when they were in the workforce. Clearly, being healthy in retirement contributes greatly to a sense of well-being. Individuals who look after themselves, eat right and exercise, can look forward to a healthier retirement than those who don't. The good news is that it's never too late to start a wellness program that targets optimum weight, a healthy lifestyle, and sufficient physical activity (at least an hour a day).

See retirement quotes and retirement sayings


The 237 Best Things Ever Said about Retirement by Ernie Zelinski

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