Researchers studying senior men and women in England discovered that “The more social groups the pensioners belonged to after they stopped working, the lower their risk of an early death.”
The difference the scientists found was not trivial: the mortality rates were a factor of six less for retirees who participated in at least two social groups than for those that stopped going to either church groups or book clubs. In addition, those who joined new clubs were even less likely to have early mortality.
The results were published in the UK medical journal BMJ Open.
Older studies show that as many as 25 percent of people who have recently retired suffer from a significant worsening in their health soon after. It is thought that the new experience of social isolation contributes to a heightened risk for dementia, depression and cognitive decline.
The researchers of this study also found that the number of strong social relationships people maintain after retiring has more of a positive effect on health and life expectancy than even exercise, good nutrition and refraining from smoking and drinking.
Chief Executive Anna Dixon of the Center for Aging Better said, “Social connections are just as important as money and health to a good later life. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to establish and maintain social connections – whether that is through living in an age friendly community, engaging in fulfilling work or volunteering, or participating in other activities.”