Retiring Early Not a Great Idea

Retiring Early Not a Good Idea?

By Jim Windell

             It sounds like a great idea. Save your money, invest wisely, and then retire early and spend the next few decades enjoying a leisurely lifestyle.

            Idyllic, right?

            Not so fast.

           According to a new study, people who retire early may suffer from accelerated cognitive decline and may even encounter early onset of dementia.

           Plamen Nikolov, a professor of economics at Binghamton University, along with a fellow researcher, examined the effects of a rural pension program that China introduced in 2009 that provided people who participated with a stable income if they stopped working after the official retirement age of 60. The study found that people who participated in the program by retiring early experienced a cognitive decline equivalent to about three IQ points.

           The researchers found that the largest negative effect was in what is called “delayed recall.” Delayed recall has to do with a person’s ability to remember something mentioned several minutes ago. Neurological research has linked this problem to an early onset of dementia.

           In general, cognitive decline refers to when a person has trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating or making decisions that affect their everyday life. Although some cognitive decline appears to be an inevitable byproduct of aging, faster decline can have profound adverse consequences on one’s life. It can, for instance, make it harder to stick to a medication schedule, remember appointments or engage in financial planning. Cognitive skills, which involves the gathering and processing of information to solve problems, adapting to situations and learning from experiences, are all critical for decision-making. Cognitive skills have a significant influence on the quality of one’s life.

            Although Nikolov, the lead researcher in this study, pointed out that retiring early and working less can lead to reduced stress, a better diet and more sleep. On the other hand, early retirement also has a number of adverse effects. For example, those who leave their career at a relatively early age may have fewer social activities and spend less time engaged in activities that challenge the mind.

           Nikolov recommends that if you are considering an early retirement you should weigh the benefits against the significant downsides of a sudden lack of mental activity. He states that a good way to ameliorate the negative side effects of taking an early retirement is to stay engaged in social activities and continue to use your brains in the same way you did when you were working.

The original sources for this story are here and here.


Share this post:

Comments on "Retiring Early Not a Great Idea"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment