Not retiring could make you healthier

Posted on: 19 November 2012 by Lynda Shaw

Dr Lynda Shaw on how working past retirement age offers older workers flexibility they need and better job satisfaction than their younger colleagues.

Working after retirementWith much talk in the media about an ageing population, the effect on pensions and a strain on the economy, I believe staying in work making you healthier because it instils self-worth and value, versus possible depression and a sedentary lifestyle that can sometimes be associated with retirement.  

Seventy is the new fifty in the workforce!  We have this wonderful bank of talent in the older generation, why are we throwing it away in business? Let’s look at what is right with the ageing population and be grateful that we have longevity, rather than look at what is wrong!  Companies need to embrace the work ethic and knowledge of the over 60s.

Don't retire if you don't want to!

You can actually age more healthily by staying in work as long as your work is fulfilling and not drudgery.  We know staying sharp on the job can help you stay mentally fit and healthy.  Those who retire earlier often become sedentary sooner and develop health issues.  Physical work though of course is another matter altogether.

Depression is enormously on the increase and so is stress and anxiety coming from loneliness, isolation and lack of self-worth post leaving employment.   Many retirees I have talked with have said they don’t know how to fill their day and feel older since quitting work and find it hard to get used to. 

Furthermore we all know that job loss for any age group can have a detrimental effect on physical, mental and emotional health.  This not only includes the health of the individual, but also affects the wellbeing of their families and loved ones. 

Whilst it is true the recession has forced many to put off retirement out of financial need and because these days they have more considerable family and other obligations, many workers past retirement age enjoy all the flexibility they need as they can quit it if they’re not happy meaning workers in their 60s+ can feel less trapped than their young counterparts. 

Employers benefit from an older workforce

Not only do older employees feel the benefits of working through retirement age but employers benefit from older workers who have accrued a  wealth of knowledge and business and social experience over a long working period.  In addition older employees can mentor young people, which not only boost their abilities but also generate communication and a stronger working relationship. 

From my talks with organisations including pension funds and HR professionals I have seen that in business there is a genuine problem with the loss of older boomer workers but only a small percentage of organizations are addressing the issue and implementing specific policies and management practices in anticipation of this potential ‘talent’ loss.

Are you working beyond retirement age? Use the comment section below to let me know what you think and how you think you are benefiting.

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