Retirees Who Continue to Work Enjoy Better Health
Retiring abruptly to a lifetime of leisure may not be good for your health. A recent study found that retirees who ease into retirement-transitioning from a full-time job into a temporary or part-time job-have fewer major diseases and function better on a day-to-day basis than those who stop working entirely, regardless of their health before retirement.
The study's authors refer to the transition between a full-time job and complete retirement as "bridge employment," which can be a part-time job, self-employment or a temporary job. The findings are reported in the October issue of the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association.
"Given the economic recession, we will probably see more people considering post-retirement employment," said co-author Mo Wang, PhD, of the University of Maryland. "These findings highlight bridge employment's potential benefits."
Wang and his colleagues looked at the national Health and Retirement Study, which is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging. They used data from 12,189 participants who were between the ages of 51 and 61 when the study began. Beginning in 1992, the subjects were interviewed every two years over a six-year period about their health, finances, employment history and work or retirement life.
In measuring health, the researchers only considered health problems diagnosed by physicians, including high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, lung disease, heart disease, stroke and psychiatric problems. Their findings showed that retirees who continued to work had fewer diseases and functional limitations than those who fully retired.
The study found that people whose jobs after retirement were related to their previous careers had better mental health as well as better physical health, but mental health improvements were not found among people who worked in jobs outside their career field after retirement. The authors believe this may be related to adapting to a different work environment that might create stress. The study also found that retirees with financial problems were more likely to work in a different field after retirement.
"Rather than wanting to work in a different field, they may have to work," said Wang. "In such situations, it's difficult for retirees to enjoy the benefits that come with bridge employment." The authors recommend that retirees carefully weigh their choice of employment after retiring.
"Choosing a suitable type of bridge employment will help retirees transition better into full retirement and in good physical and mental health," said co-author Kenneth Shultz, PhD.
Return to Current Edition