Working past retirement is good for your health

A man seated at his retirement party.

“Hang on, pops! You'll be returning to work – if you know what's good for you.” (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Sean Fornelli/Flickr)

Some people look forward to retirement at 65 as the time when they’ll finally be able to focus entirely upon the things they want to do. However, retiring at age 65 may be a thing of the past, suggests the Los Angeles Times. According to geriatrician Dr. Katherine Schlaerth of the USC School of Medicine, the U.S. retirement age may even be unhealthy.

Working longer for your health

Intellectually and physically, Schlaerth has found that her retirement-age patients who worked later into life were more healthy. Retirees who had suffered from high blood pressure, memory lapses and other ailments improved dramatically upon returning to work. They lost weight, experienced much less hypertension and avoided the kinds of depression that prey on idle minds. And considering the current U.S. economic landscape, returning to work was also a welcome financial boost for many of her patients.

Research suggests that the decline in physical and mental activity that often comes after retirement place great burdens upon a retiree’s health. A 2007 study of British civil servants corroborates this, as the risk for cognitive decline increased after for subjects after retirement. A more recent study by the Rand Corp. and the University of Michigan found that “men and women in countries where people worked longer did better on a test of cognitive skill involving memory than those in countries where early retirement was the norm,” writes Schlaerth.

Similarly, an Israeli study of septuagenarian workers found that the activity involved in the completion of daily work duties kept people healthy and increased individual feelings of independence and satisfaction.

The troubles with Social Security have paved the way

As Social Security slides toward complete collapse – and more people are taking it early – younger workers are looking toward a future where the retirement age will be significantly higher. Those who receive Social Security today grew up in a time when families averaged four children, while post-1960s families have averaged two. This means that there will be fewer worker contributions to the pool over time, which in turn will contribute to Social Security’s decline.

Where the septuagenarians are

According to, employees 50 and older tend to cluster in the following industries:

  1. Airlines (American Airlines is the top employer)
  2. Utilities
  3. Insurance
  4. Retail
  5. Chemicals
  6. Aerospace
  7. Packaging and containers
  8. Forest and paper products
  9. Food production
  10. Beverages


Los Angeles Times

Retirees: Back to work, back to school

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