The longevity revolution is here.

We are living longer and healthier lives which means that some of us can anticipate living 25 to 30 years in retirement.

That’s a very long time! And a 40-year career is not going to sustain a 30-year retirement.

So, what to do?

The issue of whether working longer leads to greater longevity is a topic that has received lots of attention in the past few years. And while there is no definitive answer yet, the latest research from Harvard Medical School adds to the mounting evidence that working longer has a whole bunch of benefits.

Of course, there is a caveat

If you hate your boss, find your job stressful, dislike your colleagues and are no longer inspired by your work, then consider retiring.

However, if you love what you do, feel energized by your work, and like your boss and colleagues, then why would you retire?

According to Dr. Maestas, associate professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School,

“If there is one message to women, it is to continue to work if you experience the work environment in a positive way; otherwise, you might consider transitioning to a new position—perhaps even within the same company,”.

And that my friends is key – at any age.

The benefits of work

My pre-retirement seminars always start off with a conversation about work because we cannot talk about your retirement unless you first understand all the benefits that work provides.

While a paycheque seems like the most obvious benefit, the right job also holds other advantages:

  • Status
  • A reason to get out of bed in the morning
  • Something to do and somewhere to go
  • A social network
  • An arena to pursue goals
  • A creative outlet
  • Intellectual stimulation

A recent 2016 study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health indicates that postponing retirement by a year can actually decrease your risk of dying early by 11%.

This finding supports the results of a French study conducted in 2013 which indicated that people who postpone retirement have less risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. And the risk decreases by 3.2% for each year of additional work.

And of course, while there are all these wonderful brain benefits, you also gain financially by boosting social security payments.

Remember the longevity revolution?

Well ladies that means that you are going to have to fund all these extra years.

This latter point is incredibly important because, on average, women don’t have as big a nest egg as their male counterparts because their work trajectories are often interspersed with periods of unemployment when they were raising children or caring for family members in need.

Combine that with the fact that women still do not earn as much money as men, yet live longer than men do, and you arrive at a very sobering reality that we need more money to fund a longer life!

Take home message

If you are doing work you love, with people you like, for a cause you hold dear, and you are healthy enough to continue working, then I strongly suggest that you rethink your retirement plans.

To your retirement success!

Dr. Gill

Photo by Thomas Hafaneth