How Retirement Can Affect Your Health

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Retirement is like any other change in your life…it’s best to think of it as a process, not a single event.

Like any other major change in your life, e.g. Whether it’s the beginning of your teenage years or the start of your professional career, retirement brings positive and negative changes.

While much research has been done on how your health is affected by retirement itself, very few studies have been conducted on how being retired affects your health after retirement.

The stress of retirement

Life is a series of stressful events. In fact, one study ranked retirement as the 10th most stressful event in life.

According to the Harvard Health Blogfor some people, retirement is a chance to escape and unwind… for others, it can be the beginning of a period of diminishing physical and mental abilities and increasing limitations in their ability to perform.

Another study in the Harvard Health Blog suggests that “moving from work to no work comes with a boatload of other changes”.

When you’ve loved your job, retirement can bring a certain senselessness. If you’ve had a stressful job, retirement brings relief.

Negative Effects of Retirement

A study of National Office for Economic Research in the US concluded that retirement can lead to an increase in mobility and functional difficulties of up to 16%, a 5% to 6% increase in illness, and a deterioration in mental health of up to 9%.

However, these negative effects can be reduced if you are married and have a good social life, play sports or other physical activities, or work part-time after retirement.

The negative health effects of retirement can be worse if you’ve been forced into retirement. According to the National Institute on Aging, Health problems have a major impact on the decision to retire early and its consequences.

data from the United States Health and Retirement Study shows that retirees are 40% more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke than those who still work. The increase in this probability was greater in the first year after retirement but leveled off thereafter.

A study in England found that retirement significantly increases the risk of chronic disease. Retirement in particular increases the risk of serious cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Positive effects of retirement

But there are other studies that link retirement to improvements in health or show that it has a neutral impact on physical well-being.

A study found that retirement does not change the risk of serious chronic diseases.

This study also found that retirement can lead to significant reductions in mental and physical fatigue and symptoms of depression in people with chronic illnesses.

So the impact of retirement on health can depend on the individual.

In other words, if you’ve loved your job, retirement can bring with it a certain senselessness. On the other hand, if you’ve had a stressful job, retirement can bring relief.

People who retire for health reasons may not enjoy retirement as much as someone who retires in good health.

Tips for a healthy retirement

Here are the four things you need to do to have a fruitful and happy retirement:

  • If possible, keep in daily contact with friends and colleagues

  • Make sure your life continues to have meaning by continuing to engage in activities like exercise or travel

  • Keep your brain healthy by being creative…study an interesting subject, paint, play music, write, garden or help other people

  • Keep learning by exploring topics that have always interested you or new topics that you have recently found exciting.

warning

It’s interesting to understand what large group studies say about retirement, but we’re all different and not a lot of studies can predict how retirement will affect your life.

Thanks to Paul D Kennedy

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