Working longer may keep you young

New study finds working past typical retirement age can boost your health.

As a child of the ’60s who is now in my 60s, the closer I get to retirement the more I appreciate the value of both “good vibes” and “good investments.”

For me, good mental and physical health — feeling good about what you do and how you live — are as important as good fiscal health. While I hope to go into retirement financially sound, I have no plans to stop doing worthwhile work or to quit spending time with smart people who make me think and laugh.

A recent study by researchers from Oregon State University supports the idea that doing meaningful work beyond typical retirement age is good for your wallet and your health.

By analyzing data from a large ongoing study of people age 50 and older, this research found that healthy adults who work one year past age 65 increase their odds of living longer.

Significantly, among the adults whose history was studied, there was an 11 percent lower risk of death from all causes.

Carmel J. Person, M.D., Norton Community Medical Associates – Geriatrics, said it’s no secret that as we age it’s important to maintain a sense of worth and purpose.

“We know meaningful human-to-human interaction can improve quality of life,” she said. “Doing work we find rewarding can be one way to keep or build these kinds of interactions.”

“It’s almost as if work and retirement can be a kind of antidote to aging,” said Maddy Dychtwald, co-founder of the research group Age Wave, in a news report about the Oregon research.

Dychtwald noted that many people in the United States opt to work beyond retirement age — and not just for the money. Some love what they do and want to keep doing it. Others just want to contribute.

“People of all ages need opportunities to engage and be part of activities that bring value to their lives,” Dr. Person said. “Staying busy can be a real benefit when it serves a purpose.”

Staying active professionally, preserving friendships and maintaining income are all valid reasons people often decide to keep working beyond their minimum retirement age. Regardless of what type of work you do, whether it’s paid or volunteer, it appears that staying physically, mentally and socially engaged can help boost your health.

Some things may have changed over the years — my hair is now gray and no longer long enough to braid — but I’m still a flower child at heart. I love working in my gardens, and still believe in the power of peace and love. So whether I “keep on trucking” at the office beyond 66 or start a community garden and help feed the hungry, as Simon & Garfunkel famously sang, “Life, I love you, all is groovy.”

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