While everyone focuses on money, often overlooked is living a long and happy life. They say you can’t take it with you, so what’s the secret for a rich and fulfilling retirement?
As a general rule, early retirement leads to a longer and happier life. The optimal age is your mid 50’s, when you’re still young and healthy enough to enjoy everything. The only caveat is ensuring sufficient savings to support your desired lifestyle.
Our most precious asset is time, something most of us take for granted. A stark reminder was the passing of a good friend and work colleague. He loved his job and prided himself on over forty years of service.
Unfortunately, his age made him a corporate liability. I know he felt deeply hurt and betrayed the day they terminated his employment. Much to his surprise, retirement wasn’t so bad. Sadly, it only lasted two years!
We all know someone who was robbed of what should have been their golden years. Time is precious and each of us has a “best before date”.
This is why the best age to retire for longevity is when you’re still young and healthy enough to fully enjoy it.
How Early Retirement Can Extend Lifespan
The traditional view of retirement has been to put your feet up and take it easy.
Completely understandable as previous generations were typically physically worn out by the time they retired. Furthermore, life expectancy was much lower than today.
Early retirees have the opportunity to change everything.
All those work-related stresses dissipate reducing the risk of future health problems such as high-blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and other health issues. This stress reduction in itself can lead to a longer, healthier and happier life.
The first thing most retirees do is turn off their alarm clocks. While this might sound symbolic, most of us don’t get enough rest. And, proper sleep is vital for optimal health.
An extreme example of this was my wife.
Her boss was an idiotic bully causing her sleep to be affected. She’d toss and turn, dreading what the next day would bring. Things got to the point she was so exhausted she needed something to help her fall asleep.
Another advantage of retiring early is getting in better shape. And, anyone with a pre-existing condition, will have more time to manage their health issues.
Time and time again, an improved diet and regular exercise have proven effective. In some situations, even leading to a full recovery.
In fact, the greatest gift you could give yourself is investing in your health. The best age to retire for longevity could very well be determined by your physical condition.
Studies On Longevity vs. Retirement Age
Research suggests retiring early can extend lifespan. In other words, the stress and pressure of work may hasten / worsen medical issues and become the primary factor for early death.
Taking this into consideration, I suspect my friend could very well have lived longer had he retired sooner.
Not everyone loves their work. According to Gallup polls, as many as half of all workers dislike their jobs. Three of the most commonly cited reasons include being underpaid, unappreciated or a lack of communication.
Older workers may also experience ageism with reduced opportunities for advancement. Further, they might struggle to keep technologically current or resent reporting to a much younger boss.
Boeing Aerospace Study
While the Boeing study is somewhat dated (2002), there’s a strong correlation between early retirement and living longer. According to Doctor Sing Lin, those who worked until 65 or older tended to die within two years!
In contrast, on average, those who retired at age 50 survived to 86. Thus, they outlived their working peers by 19 years. Based on these numbers, each additional year of work reduced life expectancy by 1.27 years!
There are many other determining factors such as family medical history, lifestyle and pre-existing conditions which need to also be factored in. Nevertheless, even more recent studies further support that work may be taking years off our lives.
Positive health effects of retirement have been studied throughout the world.
A 2017 study by the University of Amsterdam determined early retirees (over the age of 54) were 42% less likely to die in the following five years, compared to those who continued working.
Another study by The Lancet reveals the average employee’s healthy working years lasted to the age of 59.42 in England.
Finally, the New York Times reported seven years of retirement promoted better health. In fact, it reduced the chance of serious disease such as diabetes or a heart condition by 20%.
As further corroboration, all these studies seem to, collectively, support the best age to retire for longevity is in your mid 50’s.
The Counter Argument: The Benefits of Work
Also, it’s worth noting there are numerous benefits of work, especially for those who enjoy their jobs. In fact, if you love what you do, why would you quit?
Other benefits can include:
Our article, Reasons You Should Never Retire, discusses these reasons in more depth and why a part of the population has no desire to ever stop working.
Other Work Options
With all the benefits of working, other options such as casual or part-time employment might suit your lifestyle better than full-time. Several friends of mine have retail type jobs where they typically work twenty or less hours a week.
In each of their situations, they enjoy what they’re doing. It’s low-stress, interesting and gets them out of the house. Added benefits are helping customers out and the social interaction.
This could easily apply with volunteering or supporting a worthy cause.
Closing Thoughts on The Best Age to Retire for Longevity
In a perfect world, almost everyone would retire in their mid-fifties (or sooner). If this were feasible, our aging population would likely be healthier and happier. The downside would be the loss of our collective skillset and knowledge to the workforce.
This is already happening to some degree as we explain in our article The Great Retirement Exodus.
The baby boomer generation blazed new trails and are still changing the world. There’s no question our retirements will be vastly different than ever before.
The best age to retire depends upon each person’s situation. However, countless times I’ve heard individuals state “I wish I’d retired sooner”. If you’re weighing this decision, the best choice might be to make it sooner than later.