Healthy Living

Planning On Retiring Early? Consider These 5 Health Risks First

Old man
While early retirement may have its short-term benefits, the decision can bring long-term health risks. Tomas Castelazo

Early retirement is an idea entertained by many Americans in the workforce, but the decision to throw in the towel has more to do with necessity rather than choice. According to the United States Social Security Administration (SSA), early retirees can receive their social security benefits as early as age 62, but their benefits will be reduced until they reach full retirement age. Those that opt to retire before age 62 will have a lower Social Security benefit, unless the reason for retirement is due to poor health, in which case you can be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The average retirement age in the United States is from 62 to 64 for men and 60 to 62 for women, reports the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, but recent research indicates that more women are retiring earlier than men during their encore years — 50s, 60s, and 70s.

In an article published in the journal of Social Problems, researchers Phyllis Moen and Sarah Flood from the University of Minnesota found that more and more women tend to define themselves as "retired" due to reasons of poor health, corporate layoffs or buyouts, and primarily caregiving delegations. While a woman's family can play a more prominent role in her decision for early retirement as she reaches her encore years, this decision can also be detrimental to her health. "...Work is what we do in this world - and not working is a kind of exile, a form of social irrelevance. For better or worse, it is the way most of us find meaning in our world," said Ken Eisold, Ph.D., to Psychology Today. The decision to go into early retirement to be a stay-at-home mom could make a woman more prone to depression, sadness, and anger, according to a Gallup analysis of more than 60,000 U.S. women between the ages of 18 and 64 — before normal retirement age. The findings of this analysis showed that stay-at-home moms are emotionally worse off than employed moms.

Planning to retire early — by choice rather than true necessity — can give you a short-term boost, but also bring about negative effects on your health in the long term. Learn why early retirement might not be the path to a long-lasting, healthy life.

Early retirement can lead to risk of premature death

The phrase "dying to retire" could be literal, and deadly. While early retirement may seem like the answer to get away from stress and anxiety, it can also lead to an increased risk of premature death. In a study conducted at the University of Zurich in Austria, researchers analyzed the link between early retirement and mortality in those who did blue collar work. The results of the study showed that men had an increased risk of premature death before age 67 when they opted to retire early. "According to our estimates, one additional year of early retirement causes an increase in the risk of premature death of 2.4 percentage points (a relative increase of about 13.4 percent, or 1.8 months in terms of years of life lost)," said the researchers of the study.

Early retirement can lead to risk of cardiovascular death

Retirement at an early age can increase the risk of mortality — specifically, cardiovascular death. In a study conducted at the University of Athens, researchers investigated the health effects of retirement and age at retirement. Researchers analyzed the all-cause and cause-specific mortality in relation to employment status and age at retirement by analyzing the European Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study of 16,827 men and women enrolled from 1994 to 1999 who were either employed or had retired from employment at enrollment. These participants were documented in 2006 for diagnosis of stroke, cancer, coronary heart disease, or diabetes mellitus. Researchers found that retirees had a 51-percent increase in all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular mortality was higher than cancer mortality. The results of the study conclude that a five-year increase in age at retirement was linked to a 10-percent decrease in mortality. Early retirement could be a risk factor for cardiovascular death.

Early retirement can lead to dementia

The onset of dementia can be accelerated by early retirement, but delayed by retiring later. In a recent study of approximately half a million people in France, researchers found that delaying retirement can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia. In the study, of those that retired at a later age, only three percent had develop dementia.

Early retirement can lead to depression

Throwing in the towel earlier can increase the likelihood of developing depression. In a UK study conducted by the Institute of Economic Affairs, researchers analyzed data from a survey of 11 European countries who had 7,000 to 9,000 participants between 50 and 70 years old. Results showed that retirement increases the probability of being depressed by approximately 40 percent and the probability of being diagnosed by at least one physical condition by approximately 60 percent. "Old people benefit from continuing some form of paid work for longer instead of retiring entirely," said Gabriel H. Sahlgren, a research fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs and author of the study.

Early retirement can lead to anxiety

Early retirement anxiety can start to affect a person's health well before he or she officially retires. Once you submit your papers for retirement, the decision lingers in your mind as the countdown begins for your final day of work. While this may be exciting at first, it can also evoke physical and emotional symptoms, such as anxiety. The heightened level of anxiety is brought on by issues with finances, where many individuals do not know how long their savings will last. In a survey conducted CareerBuilder and Harris, 536 full-time employees, 60 and older, were surveyed in the private-sector. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they chose to delay retirement because they were not equipped to provide for themselves financially without the help of their income. And while this may seem like an unfortunate circumstance, these workers may have dodged some serious health risks.

Loading...