Would You Like to Get Paid to Stay Healthy As You Age?

As we age, we slowly, intentionally or not, begin to trim our connections to life. We sometimes choose the action, such as not going out as much, not traveling as much, or cutting down on work or retiring entirely. Sometimes it is thrust on us. Friends die. Family moves away. Income diminishes for some of us.

Several studies, including one well known study by researchers at the University of Michigan and National Taiwan University, have shown that these diminishing links to the “real world” can have not only a drastic effect on personal quality of life, but can actually cause health issues which can even hasten death in some cases. The Taiwan/Michigan study concluded, “those working for pay were only half as likely to have reported bad health and one-quarter as likely to have died” as nonworkers,

In another study by researchers, including Dr. Linda Fried, director of the Center on Aging & Health at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, results showed that four to eight months after starting work in late 1999 and early 2000, retirees putting in 15 or more hours a week in Baltimore public schools were stronger and more physically, cognitively, and socially active than a control group of nonworkers.

Recent studies have shown that, particularly due to current economic conditions, many potential retirees are electing to work to supplement retirement incomes. While that may seem to be bad news, the reality is that these people are likely to live longer and remain healthier while having more income to live off of.

Years ago, while I was a business manager for a community mental health facility, the director of the geriatric day care program explained to me that a great many of the seniors brought in to the program never should have wound up there. Either intentionally, or in response to the normal progression of aging as experienced by most people, these individuals simply became separated from the flow of life. As a result, they became mentally disoriented, experienced a diminishing of physical skills, suffered from many health problems, and no longer knew or cared what was going on in their lives.

On the other hand, many who were introduced to the program where they had intellectual stimulation, physical activity, and daily networking with people who were involved with them reversed the downward slide in which they found themselves.

Since many seniors have some sort of income, and have begun to look at simplifying their lives by getting rid of a lot of encumbrances, taking a part time job could be an actual lifesaver. They will also have the time to concentrate on improving their health and quality of life instead of having to work at building a career.

Instead of viewing retirement as a time to stop doing constructive things entirely, it can be a time to do some of the most constructive things of our lives. We can not only pursue interests which have been put on hold while “making a living”, but now we can actually do the “living” we have dreamed of.

Continuing to work, albeit at a lower and less intense level than previously, can not only help to finance our hopes, dreams, and daily lives, but give us more life to live as well. Choosing to work at some job or in some area which has been a dream long delayed can be just one more benefit in addition to getting paid to stay healthy.