Delaying Retirement May Help Us Live Longer

Despite the perils of work-related stress and having less time to do what you actually enjoy, it turns out that putting off retirement until after you turn 65 might actually contribute to lengthening your life span.

According to a recent Oregon State University study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, healthy adults who waited to retire a year after age 65 had a lower risk of death from all causes by 11 percent — independent of demographic, lifestyle and health factors.

Researchers looked at data taken from 2,965 participants in the National Institute on Aging’s Healthy Retirement Study — a long-term study of American adults that was conducted over an 18-year period from 1992 to 2010. These participants had all retired by 2010.

Since health certainly plays a role in the decision making process for the best time to retire, the study participants were separated into two groups: those whose retirement decisions were influenced by health problems and those who didn’t need to consider health issues as a factor in their decision to retire. Approximately two-thirds of the participants were categorized as “healthy retirees” while one-third were labeled as “unhealthy retirees.”

Over the 18-year period, about 12.1 of the healthy retirees passed away, compared to 25.6 percent of the unhealthy retirees. When the researchers looked at healthy retirees who retired at age 67 compared to retiring at age 65, there was a 21-percent lower risk of death.

Among healthy retirees, there was a trend in reduced risk of death as retirement age increased. The risk was 44 percent lower for healthy retirees who waited until age 70 to retire, and 56 percent lower for those who retired at age 72.

Regarding the unhealthy group, the reduction in risk of death showed a similar trend. Those who retired at age 66 saw a reduced risk of death by 9 percent. Unhealthy retirees who waited until age 67 to retire had a 17 percent lower risk while retiring at age 70 showed a 38 percent lower risk and a 56 percent lower at age 72.

The study findings suggest that working at least one year longer may positively impact retirees’ risk of death regardless of their current state of health. Although the researchers aren’t sure why risk of death decreases while retirement age increases, they speculate that the economic and social benefits that come with working could perhaps play a significant role in extending some people’s lives.

Unsurprisingly, conflicting research suggests different results. A 2013 study found that retirement age did not affect lifespan, and other studies have made similar findings. While this particular OSU study is indeed fascinating, we shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss the fact that retiring at 65 or earlier has both a good and bad side to it, which include a number of benefits and drawbacks like decreased stress, more time to enjoy life, decreased physical activity and less social interaction.

The researchers admit that more needs to be examined to gain a clearer understanding of how work and health are linked and what that means for retirement and longevity. So whether you plan on retiring at age 35 or 85, be sure to base it off of your own personal work, health and other lifestyle-related factors unique to you.

Related:
7 Ways to Increase Happiness as You Age
10 Ways to Embrace Your Inner Child as an Adult
5 Unexpected Lifestyle Habits That Boost Immunity

Photo Credit: Pixabay

79 comments

Paulo R
Paulo Rabout a month ago

ty

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Paulo R
Paulo Rabout a month ago

ty

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Sue H
Sue H6 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Paula Arias
Paula A6 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Camilla V
Camilla Vaga6 months ago

thx

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Marija M
Marija M6 months ago

tks for sharing

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara6 months ago

Coming in to part time work even a few times a year is a social good.

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara6 months ago

People should be allowed to work part time if they wish after retirement.

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara6 months ago

th

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Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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