Want a Happy Retirement? Stay Busy

Retirement may seem like a long way away for many, but as the baby boomers begin entering their 60s, it’s a reality that isn’t so far off for a large part of the population. A recent study assessed the physical and mental effects of retirement on thousands of employees and found there are numerous health benefits to retiring. In particular, retirement seems to help with mental health. The research suggests that people who voluntarily retire are more likely to have healthy and happy post-retirement lives whereas most of the people who retired early for health reasons went on to have continued physical and mental decline.

While today we don’t think of 60 as being elderly, the actual history behind retirement shows that 60 was the chosen age specifically because it used to be much more difficult to reach that age. As a matter of fact, in the Stone Age, reaching age 20 was considered a nice long life.

History of Retirement

The history of retirement can be traced back to the late 19th century to the leader of Germany Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck in 1883. Germany was trying to fight off Marxist control of Europe, so Bismarck decided to entice his citizens with pensions for any unemployed German over the age of 65. He wasn’t being extravagant though, as at the time it was very unlikely that anyone would actually reach that age. Bismarck not only outsmarted the Marxists, but he had also randomly established the age of retirement and the idea that the government should pay people for getting old.  During the Great Depression in America, retirement needed to happen as it was becoming dangerous for the elderly to work in factories with hazardous conditions. Plus older workers were taking jobs away from younger men with families to support. Finally, in the 1930s to help seniors embrace the idea of leisure time, retirement homes began to spring up in places such as Florida; in addition many recreations like golf increased in popularity to keep the retirees happy and entertained (golf course construction tripled from 1921 to 1930 in the U.S.).

Of course, just because you can retire doesn’t necessarily mean you will want to retire. The oldest man in America said that one of the factors that kept him living was that he was always working. Additional research shows that people who keep busy are less depressed. Retirement doesn’t necessarily mean the end of work, many retirees find an easy-going second job to help contribute and stay busy.

You may choose to spend your retired years lounging on a hammock drinking margaritas on the beach, or stay busy with a part-time job at a bookstore. As long as your retired years are happy, there’s a good chance they will also be healthy.

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