Many of us, as we dream about the day we’ll retire (either by choice or through enforced retirement), hold rosy images of leisurely days of hobbies and travel and family time.
Research about this part of life is becoming increasingly important as more and more baby boomers (now in their middle 50s) begin to approach retirement age.
New research out of the University of Maryland that appears in the October 2009 Journal of Occupational Health Psychology suggests that giving up all work totally after you retire is not such a good idea. In fact, the study found that retirees who perform either self-employment, temporary or part time work have fewer major diseases, and retain better day-to-day functioning.
In today’s economy, a life of leisure after retirement isn’t within reach for many of us. Many surveys are showing that more and more boomers are planning on working during years their parents dedicated to enjoying life.
Fortunately for us, research bears out the idea that there are benefits to the body (and mind) of staying busy with some form of employment.
These findings were still significant even after looking at variables like a person’s physical and mental health before retirement.
Using the national Health and Retirement Study, the team analyzed data from 12,189 participants who were 51 to 61 years old at the start of the research. Each was interviewed on health, finances and work life every two years over a six-year period.
Medical conditions were only included if they had been confirmed by a doctor’s diagnosis. The researchers also accounted for things like age, sex, education and total wealth. Everyone who participated in the study also filled out a basic mental health questionnaire.
Analysis of the data found that those who took on jobs related to their previous careers reported better mental health, and fewer limitations, than subjects who had given up all work.
Mental health improvements were seen only in those who worked in jobs somehow related to their previous career; retirees who worked in jobs outside their career saw no boost to mental health. The researchers speculate that this is because these jobs require more adaptation and therefore offer more stress. The researchers also found that retirees with financial problems were more likely to work in a different field after they retired.
Any benefits that come with working after your official retirement are lost when financial obligations make it a have to, instead of a want to….