Delay retirement but only if you like your job and the people you work with.

While much has been written about the financial benefits of longer working lives, there are social benefits too. Bonds of close friendship, a sense of community, belonging to and being of service to a cause that is larger than oneself, does wonders for your sense of identity and self-confidence.

But did you know that if you delay retirement and work past the age of 65, even for one year, you can also lower your risk of death by 11%?

American Researchers Chenkai Wu, Robert Stawski, Michelle Odden and Gwenith Fisher, examined the effects of retirement on health. Their results suggest that working longer will add years to your life, whereas retiring early may just be a risk factor for dying early.

This study adds to the growing body of research indicating that working longer comes with a whole host of benefits (providing you like your job) that also include the delayed onset of dementia.

More specifically, data from a study conducted by French researcher Dr. Dufouil, revealed that a person who retires at 65 has about a 15% lower risk of dementia, compared with a person who retires at 60.

Commenting on the results of her study, Dufouil explains,

“our data show strong evidence of a significant decrease in the risk of developing dementia associated with older age at retirement, in line with the ‘use it or lose it’ hypothesis”.

While there are still so many unknown factors as to why work provides protection from death and dementia, we do know that it does encompass factors such as having a purpose and a reason to get out of bed in the morning, keeping your brain cognitively engaged and maintaining a strong social network.

The latter point is especially important for men whose friends tend to be their work colleagues. Men tend to have fewer friends outside of work than women do, which can negatively impact their life once they retire (and impact their wives lives- but I will save that for another post). Gentlemen, you may want to delay retirement until you make some friends outside of work!

The good news is that if you left your job before you turned 65, or you are not interested in delaying retirement, just make sure to find alternate ways of finding meaning, social connection and cognitive stimulation in retirement. It is those key benefits that you derive from work that you will want to replace in retirement.

To your success!

Dr. Gill

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