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

June 21, 2011, University of Missouri-Columbia

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.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Group suggests pushing age of adolescence to 24

January 22, 2018
A small group of researchers with the Royal Children's Hospital in Australia is suggesting that it might be time to change the span of years that define adolescence—from the current 10 to 19 to a proposed 10 to 24 years ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.