As I prepare to mark the "Big 6-0" in a few weeks I have been giving a lot of thought to when, if and how I might eventually retire. Don't get too excited, it won't be anytime soon.

The thought of at least partially retiring at age 62 and wintering on the boat in The Keys is enticing. The only problem, I don't have a boat and I don't know how to sail. Add to that the fact that I don't have a whole lot of money and I guess retirement would mean sitting on the porch and watching the guys work at the construction site. I could always DJ or call BINGO at the local senior center.

But, here's something to really consider if you're thinking about retiring at 62. Researchers at Cornell University and The University of Melbourne have found that many older Americans – but disproportionally men who retire at 62 – are affected by sudden increased rates of death.

“A lot happens in our early 60s. Some change jobs, scale back working hours or retire. Our health-care coverage may shift. We may have fewer financial resources, or we may begin collecting Social Security,"

 

“About one-third of Americans immediately claim Social Security at 62. Ten percent of men retire in the month they turn 62.”   - Cornell Researcher Maria D. Fitzpatrick in The Wall Street Journal

Fitzpatrick says there is a two percent increase in male mortality at age 62.

“Over the 34 years we studied, there were an additional 400 to 800 deaths per year beyond what we expected, or an additional 13,000 to 27,000 excess male deaths within 12 months of turning 62.”

Fitzpatrick blames the increased mortality on retirement as retirees tend to withdraw from life and no longer see the point in engaging and become more sedentary.

Certainly, every story is different, but I guess the lesson learned here is that as inviting as it may seem to kick back and disengage it's not necessarily the healthy thing to do. Perhaps 62 is the age to downsize a bit and focus on the work you've always wanted to do to fill your soul and not your bank account.

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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