Retirement. It’s the dream of most Americans stuck in the middle of the 9-to-5 workday grind. But research shows delaying your retirement carries a significant number of physical and psychological health benefits.
Here are four ways that postponing your retirement can have a positive effect on your overall health.
Reduced isolation: Continuing to maintain a daily routine and having somewhere to go each day — through work or career pursuits —can reduce the sense of isolation that often comes with retirement, which can contribute to depression, anxiety, and other mental-health problems.
Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist and director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Transitional Research at Cornell University, notes researchers have found that the longer individuals work, the more joy they tend to find in their lives and that can contributes to a person’s overall happiness.
By contrast, retiring to a less-structured or sedentary existence after a lifetime of having a predictable job-related routine can have a negative impact on a person’s mental and physical health, Pillemer says.
“But every active engagement has been found to promote social well-being,” he notes. “They remain socially integrated.”
Dr. James Warner, a psychiatrist at Imperial College London, says that people who stay active mentally and intellectually have less chance of developing dementia.
That’s why continuing to work, he says, may stave off dementia.
According to a recent study by the Center for Aging Better in the U.K., most people say the thing they most miss about working is the social interaction that comes with it.
“The biggest single risk factor to becoming depressed in the elderly is social isolation,” says Warner.
Less financial stress: A little extra money can go a long way toward easing financial stresses that can boost the odds of psychological problems. It can also put you in a better position to buy healthy foods or take a stress-busting vacation.
With extra income, you can avoid dipping into your savings or pension, which could come in handy later in life, should you need extra medical care.
Also, once you’re over the age of 50, you’re eligible to invest more each year in your 401(k) and individual retirement accounts. This change increases your maximum 401(k) contribution by $6,000 and your IRA contribution by $1,000. Combined, you could invest a total of $30,500 in tax-free investing. Working longer also means your invested funds have more time to earn compound interest and boost your nest egg.
Sense of purpose: Postponing retirement can help provide you with a sense of purpose, which also boosts a person’s psychological outlook. Often when people retire they feel a certain degree of “rolelessness” or lack of purpose, according to Pillemer.
The Institute of Economic Affairs reports that retiring also tends to lead to a decrease in mental and self-assessed health. According to the institute, retiring may increase the chances of suffering from clinical depression by 40 percent.
According to studies, a sense of meaning and purpose has been linked to a longer lifespan. Andrew Steptoe, a director of the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, says that a sense of purpose can improve physical health.
He says that everything from hormonal changes to lower blood pressure derived from a sense of well-being may be linked to improved overall health.
Healthcare and Social Security: If you choose to delay retirement, you will continue getting benefits through your employer. This could mean medical, dental, and vision insurance. Replicating this coverage on an open market could be costly, even if it’s possible. The average monthly health insurance premium in 2016 was close to $600 for someone between the age of 55 and 64.
Delaying retirement also means you can wait longer to start taking Social Security benefits. If you were born between 1943 and 1954 the age at which you can receive 100 percent of your monthly Social Security benefits is 66.
If you choose to take your benefits before the “full retirement age,” determined by the Social Security Administration, your benefits are reduced by around 30 percent. Conversely, you will receive around 8 percent more in benefits for each full year you wait until after you’ve reached your full retirement age.
But there is one caveat to the benefits of postponing retirement. Pillemer warns that the health benefits of postponing retirement are only applicable to people who do it voluntarily.
“For people who work involuntarily, it has the opposite effect,” Pillemer says.
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