Australian study says retirement is beneficial to seniors, but American research has conflicting results

By @vitthernandez on
Retirees
Teodora Spanjers, 80, (L) poses with Ginny Bravos, 86, in a swimming pool locker room in Sun City, Arizona, January 7, 2013. Sun City was built in 1959 by entrepreneur Del Webb as America’s first active retirement community for the over-55's. Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

A number of governments have increased the retirement age because of funding problems of social security agencies caused by the graying population. But even the proper age to retire is a big question mark because of conflicting results made by different studies.

The American Council on Science and Health points to two recent research which show different results. It cites first the study made Oregon State University researchers of 3,000 people who were employed in 1992 and retired between that year and 2010.

The study followed up the respondents and found 234 people who considered themselves healthy and 262 who were unhealthy died. The scientists analysed that among healthy retirees, a one-year older age at retirement was linked with an 11 percent lower risk of death from all causes.

Early retirement may be a risk factor for mortality and prolonged working life may provide survival benefits among US adults,’ conclude Dr Chenkal Wu, lead author. The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

But the council notes that recent Australian study with a large number of respondents of 25,000, favoured earlier retirement. After ending their working days, the retirees hiked the physical activity by 93 minutes weekly, reduced sedentary time by 67 minutes daily, increased sleep by 11 minutes daily and stopped smoking by 50 percent of female smokers.

Dr Melody Ding, lead researcher of the Australian study – published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine – explains the positive picture of retirement to availability of time to be physically active and removal from sedentary jobs and stress related to being employed. But she acknowledges that retirement and its health benefits could be very context-specific.

Ding points out that life expectancy in Australia is 82.1 years, while it is 78.7 years in the US. “There are also different social welfare and health care systems. All of these factors may limit the generalization of our findings to the U.S.,” quotes Belmarrahealth.