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Is early retirement good or bad for your health?

By Kizito Lubano | June 29th 2016

Last week I spent time in retirement training with my peers from different professions. I happen to have been the only declared medical doctor in the group of diverse fields, mostly trustees from different public and private retirement schemes.

The most interesting presentation was about data used to calculate the estimated date (year) of death or more positively the expected years to live, that actuarial firms use to offer packages to retirees.

Most look at health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, lung disease, heart disease, strokes and psychiatric problems.

Concerns about predicting when you will die so the pension stops found me not calculating the expected date of delivery as per my current profession, but rather spine-chilling date of death. During the group discussions, many of my peers were genuinely scared at how the science works, especially the part where medical doctors reports are fitted into mathematical models to make some predictions.

While retirement and death are a certainty, the realities that can come with retirement are not always portrayed in 30-second commercials or explained by financial professionals.

Yet the desire to retire is one people in their 40s and 50s understand. At this age, work just seems to get more demanding, the days longer and more draining.

There was this conversation that most people die within a short time after retiring, because of sudden loss of the challenging mental and physical environment of work as well as colleagues that kept them going. Maybe true for some professions but not all.

In some jobs, average life expectancy after retirement is just 18 months. We have seen it said of teachers, prison officers, surgeons and others.

While some studies suggest that retiring early could kill you, others say the exact opposite.

As with all scientific studies, understanding the greater picture is important in order to truly analyse what the statistics mean.

But, regardless whether you are already planning for your retirement or intend to work until you are 75, staying mentally and physically active are the most important aspects in increasing your life expectancy.

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