Should retirement planning include strategies for being active in social groups? Perhaps yes, researchers say.
Losing membership in social groups during the retirement transition may be tied to lower quality of life and higher risk of death over the next six years, according to a new study of older adults in England.
“As people reach the end of their working lives, they are typically exposed to a lot of advice about how to plan their finances, medical care, and physical exercise in order to have a long and healthy retirement,” said lead author Niklas K. Steffens of The University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.
Social group membership may not be a part of this discussion, although the new results indicate that perhaps it should be, Steffens told Reuters Health by email.
“Social groups provide you with a sense of identity,” he said. “Amongst other things, they give you a sense of belonging, meaning, and purpose.”
The researchers studied survey responses from 424 adults who retired between 2002 and 2010 and 424 similar older adults who did not go through the retirement transition. The surveys included questions on work status, age, sex, subjective physical health, quality of life and socioeconomic status.
The surveys also asked about membership in eight categories of social groups, including social clubs, church or other religious groups.
About three-quarters of both groups were married.