A fact, prior to the industrialization of America, retirement was not normal.  Retirement is an artifact of the Great Depression, this was a result of government and industry urging older people to retire so younger more abled-bodied individuals could work.1 As the practice of retirement grew, it become widely accepted that most workers would retire. Later, the social security system was established; Americans viewed retirement as a fact of life, whether their life’s work was fulfilling or frustrating.  Children of the Depression, to a large extent, began to think of retirement as a duty to be planned for.1 Employers started to express more on pensions and matching funds of 401(k) along with retirement accounts to be competitive at hiring the best work force. This was a way to help employees view retirement not as an abrupt end to their productive life but an entitlement that is carefully protected.1

So how does retirement tie into wellness?  Many ways, in fact retirement can either be your demise or new beginning of life!  Harvard public health looked at the rates of heart attack and stroke in both male and females after retirement.  Among 5,422 individuals, those who retired were 40% more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those who were still working.  The increase was more pronounced during the first year of retirement and leveled off after that.2

What is going on here, why would retirement increase the risk of mortality or negatively affect someone’s heath?  Many factors such as increase stress, in fact retirement is 10th on the list of 43 most stressful events in life!2 Other factors such as the social structure of co-workers or colleagues.  For some, work may have been an escape hatch for those with unhappy home life or on the flip side work may have been positive and it is no longer available due to age limitations for that job?   Having all that extra time after retirement can be hard for individuals to restructure.  This is why living in a retirement community has so many benefits.  Research shows that seniors who live in retirement communities are more independent than those who age in their own home.   Especially one that offers physical therapy for quick recovery along with wellness programs with various activities. 

Today it is expected that someone retiring at 65 will live another 20 years or more!  With that in mind, find a job or volunteer, learn new things, play variety of games such as cards, golf, shuffleboard, bocce ball and make new friends this summer!  We are never to old to play, we only get old when we don’t play!



  • Insel, P. M. (2010). Baby Boomers: Redefining Age and Retirement. In W. T. Roth (Ed.), Core Concepts in Health (p. 693). New York: McGraw-Hill .
  • Skerrett, P. J. (2012, December 10). Is retirement good good for health or bad for it? Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/is-retirement-good-for-health-or-bad-for-it-201212105625

Kaleb Roudabush
Wellness Coordinator