(This article appears courtesy of Christian Steiner of Home Instead Senior Care, Manhattan.)
Seniors who keep busy working or volunteering may have discovered a fountain of youth. Research says there are benefits to both employment and volunteering. Staying healthy longer is one of them.
Question: I’m a 66-year-old retiree who lives in Manhattan who had a successful 40-year career. I thought I’d really love retirement, but I find I miss working. Do you have any suggestions? Also, is there evidence that continuing to work harms seniors in any way?
You’re not alone in your desire to continue to put your skills to use. Some studies have indicated that as many as 70 percent of Americans plan to work past the traditional retirement age.
Here are some ideas…
- What’s more, your field of expertise may be missing your skills as much as you’re yearning to put them to good use. The retirement of today’s seniors, with the Baby Boomer generation soon to follow, will leave a void of experience and skills in the workplace. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t continue to work, if that’s what you enjoy.
- Find a part time job with Workforce50
- Volunteer with an organization that is fulfilling through VolunteerMatch
And, researchers say, the findings are significant even after controlling for people’s physical and mental health before retirement. The study’s authors refer to this transition between career and complete retirement as “bridge employment,” which can be a part-time job, self-employment or a temporary job. The findings are reported in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association.
Over the course of the study, the researchers considered only physician-diagnosed health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, lung disease, heart disease, stroke and psychiatric problems. They controlled not only for baseline physical and mental health but also for age, sex, education level and total financial wealth. The results showed the retirees who continued to work in a bridge job experienced fewer major diseases and fewer functional limitations than those who fully retired.
UCLA researchers followed 1,072 healthy adults aged 70 to 79 between 1988 and 1991 to determine if productive activities – specifically volunteering, paid work and child care – prevent the onset of frailty. At the beginning of the study, 28 percent of participants volunteered, 25 percent performed child care duties and 19 percent worked for pay.
After three years, participants in all three activities were found to be less likely to become frail. After accounting for levels of physical and cognitive function, however, only volunteering was associated with lower rates of frailty. Frailty is a geriatric condition marked by weight loss, low energy and strength, and low physical activity.
If you would like to know more about how to prevent frailty, visit www.getmommoving.com, the Home Instead Senior Care® network’s public education campaign that is geared toward keeping seniors active and healthy.
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We hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or if you know of a senior who could benefit from our vast array of home care services in the Fairfax area , please call us at 703.750.6644, or email us. We accept most long term care insurance as payment and have a full time staff of trained and certified home care personnel covering the Fairfax County, Virginia area.