From Katherine Schlaerth, April 20, 2011, LA Times:
A doctor has come to believe that most people just plain do better, both intellectually and physically, when they continue to work.
He was a frustrating patient, a retired field worker with poorly controlled diabetes and hypertension. I'd warned, I'd pleaded, I'd explained, but nothing had worked. He ignored dietary advice, didn't exercise and failed to rigorously use his medication. We grew to dread his visits. Then one day he came to the office early for medication refills. His pot belly was almost gone, and his blood sugar levels and blood pressure were right on target. The reason? He'd decided to return to work.
It brought to mind another of my patients, an oil field worker, who had always had a vitality that belied his fiftysomething years. But then he was involuntarily laid off. The next time he came to the office, I was shocked. It was as if he'd aged a decade or two.
Americans are hard-wired to consider retirement age to be 65. Social Security, under a formula established in the 1930s when the average age at death was about 15 years earlier than it is today, reinforced that idea. And now that retirees can begin collecting Social Security and/or pensions before they turn 65, a growing number of people leave the workplace even earlier.
As a geriatrician, I've come to believe that working longer is generally a good thing. Most people just plain do better, both intellectually and physically, when they continue to work. I've observed many times that mature patients who quit working — whether they have been laid off or retired voluntarily — are likely to gain weight, become hypertensive and even develop depression.
I believe it. I grew up in a farming community, and saw many farmers continuing to work into their 70s and 80s. Age might have slowed them down a little, but they never found a reason to stop.
I'm with you Bruce. I've seen many a farmer continue on just fine into seriously old age.
The idea of "retirement" doesn't make any sense to them. Doesn't make sense to me either but, in the end, each to his own.
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