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3 Unexpected Benefits of Later Retirement

Dana Larsen
By Dana LarsenJuly 17, 2013

Everyone wants to retire. Work is, well — work. Most of us only work because we have to. Well, new research shows that there are many benefits to retiring later in life. Learn why working until late 60s, and even age 70, can not only help keep your mind stimulated and help you fend off dementia, it also can make you more sociable and, of course, wealthier.

Reasons It's Good to Retire Later In Life

What would you do if you had free time? From spending time with family, golfing, attending luncheons with friends — or just taking that cooking and sewing class you always wanted to — having some “free time” seems like it’s just what the doctor ordered. But the truth is that most peoples’ health severely declines after they retire. Why is this?

Read below for the answer and discover other reasons not quitting your day job may be a smart move.

1. Retiring Later May Prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia

A sound mind requires work, according to new research by INSERM, the French government’s health research agency. The “use it or lose it” theory of exercising the brain and staying mentally sharp is true. Scientist Carole Dufouil comments, “For each additional year of work, the risk of getting dementia is reduced by 3.2 percent.” Why is this? Working tends to keep people socially connected, physically active and mentally challenged — all necessary ingredients to help prevent mental decline.

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About 35 million people worldwide have dementia, and Alzheimer’s is the most common type. In the U.S., about 5 million have Alzheimer’s —one out of nine people aged 65 and over. What causes the mind-robbing disease isn’t known and there is no cure or any treatments that slow its progression. However, INSERM and other scientific studies, including one from King’s College in London, show that keeping the brain engaged and active, as well as maintaining human relationships, is important in slowing or combating dementia. It’s more staying cognitively active, staying socially active, and continuing to be engaged in whatever it is that’s enjoyable to you” that’s important, Dufouil notes.

While some people will volunteer and stay socially engaged with their families, friends and communities after retirement, many do not. Personality and individual drive is a huge factor, in this instance. Staying cognitively engaged is also important; and work tends to keep the brain engaged. So if someone is no longer working, they’ll need to focus on mind-exercising activities, such as chess, cards, reading and/or number crunching through sports or other hobbies.

2. A Few Extra Years of Work Cushion Your Retirement Fund

This one is a no-brainer.

Millions of American workers are facing a tough financial dilemma when it comes to planning for retirement. Modern medical technology is allowing people to live longer and healthier lives, but the savings necessary to sustain them through their declining years just isn’t there. As a result, many Americans have decided to extend their careers and work into their late 60s, through their 70s, in the hopes of enjoying a more financially secure retirement. Even retiring at one position to be hired for work at another company is an option to help sustain finances.

Another financial benefit to working later is the extended healthcare coverage that you will continue to receive through your employer. The cost of health insurance premiums for the elderly can be devastating in some cases, such as where the insured has serious health problems. Long-term care or critical illness coverage can really make all the difference.

Also, by working longer, you gain benefits along with increased personal savings as well as Social Security benefits. If you defer your Social Security benefits until age 70 or later, then you can expect to have to save 25% more for your retirement than if you started receiving benefits at your normal retirement age.

3. The Government is Not Prepared for the Silver Tsunami

Worldwide, the percentage of adults over age 65 is expected to double — from 7-14% of the total — by the year 2040.

According to U.S. News & World Report, for the next 20 years, about 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 each day. This is a scary number when we look at the government resources available to support this large of an elderly population. While the new realities are not ideal from a government perspective, they can definitely be depressing for Americans who have been diligently working for 30+ years to enjoy a fulfilling golden years’ existence. The oldest baby boomers turned 60 in 2006, and when the trend peaks in 2030, the number of people over age 65 will soar to 71.5 million — that’s 1-in-5 Americans.

The aging population boom will put tremendous stress on the resources and services that communities provide for older adults. Government resources, such as Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security simply don’t have the funding to support such a large senior population. Not only that, with the price of health care increasing along with long-term care costs and a shortage of senior housing, the nation has some serious planning to do in the near future.

Making The Most of a “Working” Reality

According to a recent Gallup poll, expectant retirement age has been steadily increasing since the mid 1990s and has reached a new expectant retirement age of 67 as many seniors were hit by the recession.

The silver lining? Nourishing our minds and bodies contributes to latter years’ quality of life. Pardon the cliche, but our bodies really are “well-oiled machines” that need pampering, maintenance and care. The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78 years, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which means that exercising, eating a healthy diet and keeping our minds engaged and happy (and yes — working longer, in some instances) helps us enjoy a more active, mentally sound retirement. The Journal of Geriatric Medicine recommends to all seniors that the best way to keep mind and body healthy “is to combine keeping physically active with eating a balanced diet and getting your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly.”

You may have to work longer than anticipated. But taking the time to have a paradigm shift to appreciate how work can actually enhance your life — and possibly postpone Alzheimer’s — definitely provides a healthy perspective.

Do you think retiring later in life really is good for you? Or, do you think it’s just something we’re told to make us feel better about the inevitable? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Dana Larsen
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