For a lot of people, retiring from the job that you spent decades of your life at is a key reward for daily work. Retirement for most of us means time to relax, explore, and have fun unburdened by your usual daily work. On the other spectrum, retirement is a frustrating period marked by deteriorating health and increasing your limitations. We explore the pros and cons of retirement, giving you a better view of your options in the future.
Is retirement bad for your health?
For decades, researchers have been trying to figure out whether retiring is good for your health, bad for you, or neutral.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a deep analysis of individuals after they had retired. Focusing mainly on the health aspect of retiring, the study originated around 5,422 men and women living in America. Rates of heart attacks and stroke among men and women were looked at in the ongoing U.S Health and Retirement Study. It found that those who had retired were 40% more likely to have had a heart attack or a stroke compared to the individuals who are still working. The increase was found to be more pronounced during the first year of retirement and levelled off after that.
The results of the study, found in the journal Social Science & Medicine, are in line with earlier studies that have shown that retirement is associated with a decline in health. Other research has shown that retirement is associated with improvements in health, whilst some have shown it has little effect on your health.
Retirement changes your life
The Harvard Health describes retiring as a “life course transition involving environmental changes that reshapes health behaviours, social interactions, and psychosocial stresses that also brings shifts in identity and preferences”. Moving from work to no-work comes with a boatload of other changes. Another result of this study suggests that researchers may need to look at retiring as a process rather than an event.
These changes may be why retirement is ranked 10th on the list of 43 most stressful events. On the other hand, some other people smoothly make the transition into retirement, whereas some people find it hard to adjust.
Dr George E. Vaillant, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and numerous colleagues talked with hundreds of men and women taking part in the study of adult development. This study took Dr Valliant and his colleagues 40 years to conduct. Initially focusing on early development, the study now encompasses issues of ageing, like retiring.
When researchers asked study participants 80 and older what made retirement enjoyable, healthy, and rewarding, four key elements were highlighted:
- Create a new social circle – Not only do you walk away from your job – but you also walk away from daily interactions with friends and colleagues you have seen at your workplace on a regular basis. We recommend that establishing a new social network is good for your mental and physical health. You can do this by interacting with your neighbours more, attending social clubs – such as knitting and reading circles, or even volunteering.
- Play – activities such as golf, dance, travelling or knitting can help you let go of your worries. Not only does a hobby keep you active but also helps establish new relations.
- Stay creative – activating your creative side of your brain releases dopamine which helps you lift your mood. Creativity takes various forms, from painting to gardening, to teaching yourself a new language. Tapping into creativity may also help you discover new parts of yourself.
- Learning keeps your mind active – On-going learning keeps the mind active and brain healthy. There are numerous ways to learn. You can embrace the digital way of learning by signing up to online resources such as Udemy. Udemy offers both free and low-course courses such as learning a new language, learning how to code and much more. You can also follow traditional paths of learning by going back to University, attending classes, or volunteering.
The health benefits of retirement
Retirement marks the end of a person’s working career, but retiree’s in recent decades have radically redefined what it means to be retired. Today, more and more retirees are becoming more active in a variety of ways. Whatever form you take in terms of being more active, there are several major advantages of retirement.
Jobs are a major source of stress for many people. Retirement may come as a relief to many. By removing the need to perform to a high standard and meet specific targets, retirement can be good for a retiree’s mental health.
Deteriorating health normally occurs in later life. Retirement is associated with a time of poor or fading health. However, retirees have more time to sleep, exercise and choose or prepare helpful foods. Many retirees turn to physical activity to help promote longevity.
Getting closer to family members
Retirement offers the advantage of freeing up your time and energy to spend with family members. The classic instance of retired grandparents babysitting is a common example. Retirees can use their new lifestyle to spend more time with family members (close or distant) retired siblings, neighbours, and close friends.
Potential options after retirement
While at work many of us dream of having time off to fill our days travelling, playing golf, relaxing, and spending your time with loved ones. However, when retiring draws closer, the traditional ideas you may have had when you thought of retirement may seem less appealing. Here are our top 5 idea’s, as to what you can do after retirement.
- Work as a consultant – Retired individuals with specialist experience or advanced degrees can consider work as a consultant. Consultants have the pleasure of setting their own times and leveraging years of expertise, training, and connections.
- Becoming a babysitter – If you love spending time with kids, or even miss the times you spent with your children when they were younger, you may want to consider babysitting. All you need to do is create a profile and start searching for families in need of daycare. You can also babysit for your loved ones.
- Work as a temp – Temporary jobs give you the opportunity to work alternative work with leisure. Temp jobs vary, from office jobs to retail, to teaching. You can find temp jobs by exploring online job boards as well as contacting your local recruitment agency.
- Consider further education – University provides re-training and further education for people of all ages. Furthering your knowledge in your area of expertise or even a new field will allow you to explore career paths that may have been closed off to you in earlier stages of your career. Going to University has also allowed numerous individuals in the past to find new passions and make lifelong friendships with fellow students.
- Become a pet sitter – If you’re an animal lover, pet sitting may be the ideal retirement option for you. Not only does it keep you active, from the walks you go on with your pet, but also keeps your mental state positive. Family, friends, and neighbours may require pet assistance while they are away for business, or on holiday.
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