A recent University of Oregon study indicates that staying on the job in your later years may help you live a longer, healthier life. Working past the traditional retirement age not only helps financially, but benefits your health and longevity.
The study, which was published this year in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, analyzed an ongoing study of people age 50 and older. Those working as little as one year past age 65 had an 11 percent lower mortality risk than those who retired and were in similar health. The researchers concluded that “early retirement may be a risk factor for mortality and [that a] prolonged working life may provide survival benefits.
Another study, this time from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also noted that older working adults are healthier than their retired counterparts. The study uncovered a strong association with employment and health status even after accounting for education, income and lifestyle factors (Health Status of Older US Workers and Nonworkers, National Health Interview Survey, 1997-2001)
Both these studies confirm that staying mentally active, productive, having purpose and maintaining a strong social network of co-workers and friends makes a difference to our health. The CDC study also shows that older workers are emotionally more stable and have lower rates of absenteeism than their younger workers. Older workers have seen it all. They aren’t going to stress over the small stuff. Since there is scientific proof that stress negatively impacts health, when you don’t let stress get to you, your body responds in all sorts of positive ways.
For older individuals who have already retired, volunteering produces similar types of emotional and physical benefits as staying on the job. Contributing to society whether through work or volunteering leads one to appreciate and be grateful for the ordinary experiences of life, which in turn creates mental and physical well-being. Appreciation and gratitude are the secret ingredients that all happy long-lifers share. It’s a state of mind we should strive for no matter our age.