Working Past Retirement Age

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When we were in our 30s, most of us couldn’t wait for the day we could retire. Now, at retirement age, many of us aren’t doing what we expected.

There is a new study out that says many seniors actually want to continue working after retirement. Some want to continue to be around people, making work a social outlet. Some want something to do so they can feel productive. And some, 63 percent of those who responded in a survey, said they needed to keep working due to finances.

Generally, though, the majority of us are happy working — much happier than our very young counterparts. Chances are that it’s because older workers past retirement age work part time and aren’t supporting families.

Another study was able to determine that continuing to work is good for our health, both physical and mental. Researchers found that those who work in “bridge employment” (part-time work in the same field as before retirement) develop fewer diseases and functional limitations. They also had better mental health than those who retired completely. However, those who worked in a different field after retirement did not get the same mental-health benefits from the employment, likely due to the stress of learning a new job.

This makes sense. If we’re working, we’re staying physically active. We engage with others and feel productive, and that helps our mental health. But having to learn new skills (especially if one is forced to work due to a financial situation) isn’t taken as a positive, and mental health can suffer.

Maybe the key is for employers to create part-time work, perhaps job-sharing, for those who reach retirement age.

Matilda Charles will incorporate questions into her column whenever possible. Write to her in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or e-mail to columnreply@gmail.com.

© 2009 King Features Synd., Inc.

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