How Retirement Can Affect Your Health

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How Retirement Can Affect Your Health

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

Like any other major change in your life, such as entering your teenage years or starting your working career, retirement brings changes good and bad.

While a lot of research has been done on how your health is affected by retirement itself, there have been very few studies done on how being retired affects your health after you retire.

The stress of retirement

Life is a series of stressful events. Indeed, one study ranked retirement as 10th on the list of the most stressful life events.

According to the Harvard Health Blogretirement is, for some people, an opportunity to get away from the daily grind and relax…for others it can be the beginning of a period of declining physical and mental abilities and increasing limitations on what they are able to do to do.

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

If you love your job, retirement can bring some emptiness of purpose. If you had a stressful job, retirement brings relief.

Negative effects of retirement

A study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in the US concluded that retirement can lead to an increase of up to 16% in difficulties associated with mobility and doing daily tasks, a 5 to 6% increase in illnesses, and a decline in mental health of up to 9%.

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

The negative health effects of retirement can be worse if you are forced to retire. According to the National Institute on Aging, health problems have a major impact on any decision to retire early and its aftermath.

Data from the US Health and retirement study shows that retirees are 40% more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those still working. The increase in this probability was greater in the first year after retirement, but then leveled off.

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

Positive effects of retirement

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

One study found that retirement does not change the risk of major chronic diseases.

This study also found that retirement can bring about a substantial reduction in mental and physical fatigue and symptoms of depression in people with chronic diseases.

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

In other words, if you love your job, retirement can bring some emptiness of purpose. On the other hand, if you had a stressful job, retirement can bring relief.

People who retire because of health problems may not enjoy retirement as much as someone who retires and feels healthy.

Tips for a healthy retirement

Here are the four things you need to do to experience a fruitful and enjoyable retirement:

  • Keep in daily contact with friends and colleagues where possible

  • Make sure your life continues to have purpose by continuing to do activities like sports or travel

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

  • Keep learning by exploring topics you’ve always been interested in or new ones you’ve recently found appealing.

Warning

Understanding what large group studies say about retirement is interesting, but we are all different and no amount of studies can predict how retirement will affect your life.

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