Many People Who Retire Find Health Worse Than Expected

According to a recent report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Harvard School of Public Health, one in four people who retire report feeling that life has gotten worse since they retired. And it’s not all about finances. According to surveys taken for the study, 39% of those currently retired say their health is worse now than it was before they retired. The report compiled by a team of investigators and headed by RWJF president and CEO, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey has been posted on the foundation’s web site.

While it’s no secret that health tends to decline as people age, some Baby Boomers appear to have been covering their ears. In another poll conducted by RWJF, only 13% of those approaching retirement think their health will be worse over the next five year period. Clearly a case of burying the head in the sand if ever there was one. What’s more troubling is that in the same survey only 25% of those surveyed said they planned to retire on or before age 65, which means many of those same people are likely to find health issues getting in the way of continuing to earn a paycheck. Hence, the shock part of retirement.

Despite the fact that nearly a quarter of retirees report that their lives grew worse after retiring, some 39% of them say that life is actually better, even if their health isn’t quite as good as it used to be. Those who think so, say living without stress or and having more time to spend with friends and family more than makes up the difference.

To compile the report, the foundation queried 1,254 respondents, all over the age of 50. Its purpose was to see if there were differences in people’s expectations regarding retirement versus actual real-life experiences. The result says Robert Blendon, professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health, one of the authors of the report, is that it appears clear that many people have unrealistic expectations about retirement and thus may not be planning for the very real future they will eventually find. He suggests people educate themselves in order to better prepare themselves for what they will most assuredly find once they reach retirement age.

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