Planning is key to a healthy and happy retirement, studies find

Retirement is often viewed as a time to relax, travel, participate in leisurely activities and spend time with family. However, for many older adults, chronic health problems and poor planning often hinder the enjoyment of retirement. Now, a University of Missouri researcher has found that planning for changes in lifestyle and health leads to better retirement for married couples.

Angela Curl, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work, says it is important for couples to plan for retirement, both financially and socially and to consider the changes that may occur in their relationships and day-to-day activities.

Communication about retirement with each other and family members and friends makes it easier for couples to adjust to a new routine, Curl says.

"Any time a major life change happens, it is an opportunity for renegotiation of roles within a couple," Curl said. "If a couple wants positive changes to occur in retirement, it is important for spouses to be intentional in negotiating and planning for activities that match their ideals, finances and current health status."

In addition to planning for changes in routine and lifestyle in retirement, it is important to prepare for health problems that may occur later in life.

Curl examined the effects of retirement on self-rated health and cardiac health among couples and found gender differences in how husbands and wives rate their health after retirement. Wives rated their health worse during the first few years of retirement, but their ratings improved in the long run. In contrast, husbands continued to rate their health worse the longer they were retired.

Husbands reported improved health when their wives retired. Retirement also reduced the risk of cardiac health problems in men, but had no effect on cardiac health in women.

"When wives retire, they may monitor their husbands' health more closely, taking them to the doctor regularly and ensuring they lead a healthy lifestyle," Curl said. "Women traditionally put the needs of everyone else before themselves, a behavior that could put their own health at risk."

To ease the switch from full-time employment into retirement, Curl recommends a gradual transition to working less and maintaining some level of engagement in the workforce.
"There are a lot of health benefits to staying employed," Curl said. "Working just a few hours each week can facilitate better health."

Curl's research examined preparing for retirement through dialogue with friends, coworkers and family members. Her study, "Retirement and cardiac health: A longitudinal, dyadic analysis" was presented at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America. The study was funded by the Hartford Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholars Grant. Curl's study "A Multilevel Dyadic Study of the Impact of Retirement on Self-Rated Health: Does Predict Worse Health in Married Couples?" is under review.

More information: The study, “Retirement and cardiac health: A longitudinal, dyadic analysis,” was presented at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study examines working couple's retirement patterns

Nov 18, 2008

When retiring, men are more likely than women to move directly from work to retirement, but overall the retirement patterns for dual-income married couples are complex and call for additional considerations in planning for ...

The importance of workplace relationships post-retirement

Aug 17, 2010

The influence of traditional social structures such as neighbourhoods and local organisations has declined. The workplace has become the "new neighbourhood" and has become increasingly important for maintaining social interaction ...

Retirement reduces tiredness and depression

Nov 24, 2010

Retirement leads to a substantial reduction in mental and physical fatigue and depressive symptoms, finds a study published in the British Medical Journal today. However, the research also concludes that retirement does not ...

Recommended for you

AMA examines economic impact of physicians

4 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Physicians who mainly engage in patient care contribute a total of $1.6 trillion in economic output, according to the American Medical Association (AMA)'s Economic Impact Study.

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

4 hours ago

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

4 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

User comments