New research suggests that the more social groups to which retirees belong, the more likely they are to live an extended life in retirement. So, is it time you joined the club?
Scientists in the UK have tracked 424 English men and women through their first six years in retirement. They found that maintaining social links in their later years may actually contribute more to a longer life than exercising.
The study found that there was a six-fold difference in the mortality rates between those who maintained memberships in social groups from before they stopped working, and those who no longer attended.
Other studies have shown that retirees usually experience a 25 per cent drop in health not long after retiring. The social isolation many experience after giving up work can lead to depression, anxiety, dementia and general cognitive decline.
The authors of this particular study found that 6.6 per cent of retirees died within six years of retiring. However, those who maintained membership in at least two social groups only had a two per cent risk of death; those who maintained one membership had a five per cent risk, and those who ceased all group activity had a 12 per cent risk of early death.
The study goes to show that to live a long, happy life, it’s just as important for older people to stay connected socially as it is to create wealth and maintain physical fitness.
“It’s yet more evidence that having a sense of purpose and taking part in meaningful activity can make a really positive difference to health and wellbeing in later life,” said Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, which is an advice and support charity program for older people in the UK. “As the population ages and family structures change, combating loneliness is increasingly going to become a pressing public policy issue, and it’s important that much more is done to tackle this issue.”
So, good news for those who don’t like to run, walk or ride a bike – at least you can join a club and live a longer life!