By: Dividend Sensei
Traditional Retirement Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be
Many people consider retirement a well earned vacation from work, and for some this might be true. Especially if you had a blue collar job that was physically demanding and potentially painful. That might make the ability to not work at all and just relax seem very appealing. However a 2013 study by the Institute of Economic Affairs found that traditional retirement in which you don’t work at all increased the risks of clinical depression by 40% and of obtaining a serious injury by 60%. And according to the Mental Health Foundation 20% of retirees are indeed depressed. That’s because our jobs often define us or at least give us a reason to get up and out of the house. For many people our workplace is the only significant area of social interaction we have. Thus retirement can end up not as a blessing but a curse.
Worst still the traditional model of retirement can actually end up shortening your life. A study from the Harvard School of Public health that looked at 5,422 people found that those who quit working entirely were 40% more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. The effect was the strongest for the first year of retirement, when people are often the least active. And according to Carole Dufouil, a scientist at l’Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale or INSERM (the French government’s health research agency) “For each additional year of work, the risk of getting dementia is reduced by 3.2%.”
In other words research shows that prolonged periods of inactivity are detrimental to both our social, psychological and physical health. According to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies ⅔ of baby boomers plan to either postpone retirement beyond 65 or never retire at all. So this creates a potential silver lining to postponing retirement. But here’s the trick to both enjoying a full retirement, including enough income to live comfortably, while not feeling cheated.
Don’t think of retirement as a permanent vacation but a chance to reinvent yourself. The goal shouldn’t be to never work but to live life on your terms. That means staying active, including keeping your mind challenged to minimize the risk of Alzheimer’s. It doesn’t necessarily mean working for someone else, but potentially starting your own small business. Or if you don’t have the skill or desire for that then you can try contract work that you enjoy, just potentially fewer hours to still allow you time to pursue other interests.