For the research, conducted in Greece, 16,827 men and women were followed from 1999 to 2006. To enter the study each person had to be free of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and stroke.
The researchers then compared the death rate of those folks who were already retired at the start of the study to those who were still working. Alarmingly, the retirees had a 51 percent increase in “all-cause mortality” than those who were working.
Regarding the individuals who were younger than 55 when the study began, 9 percent of the retirees died compared to only 1 percent of those still employed. Further analysis showed that each five years that retirement was delayed was accompanied by a 10 percent reduction in mortality.
Death from injury or accident was not associated with retirement age. Cancer death was somewhat linked with retirement, but the big killer of early retirees was heart disease. The findings cannot be explained by poor health, age, smoking, education or weight, since these factors were eliminated from the study results.
It seems that retirement itself increases mortality risk for some individuals, perhaps due to factors such as financial worries, a more sedentary lifestyle, lack of challenging stimulation, loss of social contacts at work and feelings of isolation and depression. All of these aspects can cause problems that may not have been anticipated before retirement became a reality.
Early retirement can be wonderful if we stay active physically, mentally and socially, and have hobbies and activities that keep us looking forward to new horizons. Sitting all day in front of the TV, the modern equivalent of the rocking chair on the front porch, is a recipe for disaster.