Bookmark and Share

Working for the Health of It

by Teena Rose, President of Resume to Referral, an Executive Resume Writing Service.

Is working good for your health? If Mick Jagger can rock well into his 60s, then there must be something good with staying on the job.

Now, being a legendary rocker at retirement age isn't exactly like selling insurance, but the entire perception of the retirement culture has been turned on its head. Retirement no longer means the rocking chair and early-morning tee times. It has become more of a transitional period, which will continue to be redefined as more and more baby boomers approach the age of 60.

Retiring around the age of 60 became the benchmark in the 1930s as President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted a program that would curb the insecurity of aging in an industrial society. The Social Security system protected older workers who could no longer perform strenuous physical labor and needed to retire.

But changes in the job market have prompted a need to streamline the system. A dramatic change in technology has created jobs that are less physical and demanding on the body, meaning workers are viable much longer in the 21st century. In fact, Duke researchers found that between 1982 and 1994, the prevalence of sickness and disability among people age 65 and over declined from about 25 percent to 21 percent.

So, unless you're a stressed out air traffic controller or you've spent 30 years digging in the coal mines of West Virginia, working into your 60s and beyond can actually be a health benefit.

Work impacts health in several ways, many of them psychological. Working gives people a sense of identity, meaning and purpose. It keeps people connected within a social environment that's important for good mental health, not to mention a paycheck. For many seniors, the loss of employment can have a monumental physical and psychosocial impact. Studies have shown that being unemployed reduces life expectancy and results in more health problems.

This is not to say that everyone who retires is at a higher risk to go downhill quickly, especially if they're comfortable with their post-9-5 plans. But researchers have shown that for many, when work ends suddenly through complete retirement, with no part-time employment, volunteer work or other form of occupation, the effects can be quite damaging and stressful.

There's no single formula that applies to all workers, of course. The type of job, financial situation and family commitments can all play into how continuing to work will effect health. Everything must be taken on a case-by-case basis. The most important thing when nearing retirement age, whatever that may be, is to have more control over your choices. A work-friendly environment that's productive, supportive and prosperous can help make you the picture of health.

Teena Rose, Book Author, Columnist, Resume Writer, Career Specialist, 1999 - Present. Provides resume writing and career services to an array of career professionals, ranking from new graduates and entry-level jobseekers to business owners and executives. Targets advice and coaching services to give jobseekers a leg-up against "the competition."