Why Continue to Work Even Past Your 90s?

CNBC recently reported that the founder of Pacific International Lines is the world’s oldest billionaire that still goes to work in his office every day.  This is even after he handed over the reigns of the company to his son earlier this year.  How old is he? An amazing 100 years-old!

In reality, not everyone is a millionaire, let a lone a billionaire.  So why bother to work past normal retirement age?  Professor Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist at Cornell University told CNN that “people who engage in organized work have higher age of mortality” — noting also that such benefits accrue to people who chose to work longer and not to people who were essentially forced to work past their retirement age and have no choice.  Assuming that you fall into the former group, here are the positive reasons why you should continue to work:

  • In your working life, you may take human interaction for granted.  But when you retire, the lack of human interaction can lead to loneliness and even depression.  Human interaction is important to maintaining your mental health —  it make you happier.   There are studies that positive human interaction can reduce the risk of dementia and depression as you age.
  • Going back to work gives you a greater sense of purpose, and this is important because without that motivation, it can lead to a downward spiral in both your mental and physical health.  Meaningful work keeps you engaged and provides you with a reason to get out of bed each day.  Most of us need that!
  • Going to work normally involves some form of physical activity – and as you grow older, you will benefit from being physically active as opposed to living a sedentary stay-at-home lifestyle.  Things like walking to the MRT or bus station, or simply walking the last distance home everyday adds up the positives of having regular basic physical activity.
  • Last but not least is the benefit of additional income derived from going back to work.  Even if you do not need the money, the extra bit will help improve your economic situation.  Perhaps it will give you greater options for your choice of vacation or even the peace of mind to put some more money away for a rainy day.  And it does not hurt.
Types of work for those over 85 years-old in the USA.

While I cannot find data in Singapore, the above gives you an idea of the type of work that post-retirement age persons can explore – the bottom half of the chart reflects the type of work that requires more skill or training such as being a tax preparer or writer.  

Another option is to find some way to volunteer with an organization on a regular basis.  That can also provide some of the benefits listed above.  More on that later …

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