Retirement is a key hallmark of life for many in modern society. The Baby Boom generation has resulted in increasing numbers of retirees. Given this trend, it is important to identify key factors that promote better health and longevity in the years following retirement. We used data from 4,266 participants of the Health and Retirement Study who retired over the course of the study to examine whether levels of episodic memory at retirement and rates of change before and after retirement would be associated with disability, cardiovascular disease, and mortality risk following retirement, above and beyond socio-demographics and known risk factors. Individuals who exhibited higher levels of episodic memory at the time of retirement and relative stability in episodic memory prior to and following retirement had a decreased likelihood for disability, cardiovascular disease incidence, and mortality following retirement. The effects of disability remained when controlling for socio-demographics and known risk factors, whereas the effects of level and change prior to retirement on cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality were no longer significant with the inclusion of known risk factors. Better episodic memory was consistently associated with lower risk of disability, cardiovascular disease, and mortality following retirement. Less decline or stability in episodic memory during the time prior to retirement was also associated with lower risk of disability and cardiovascular disease, but not with mortality risk, during the period after retirement. Our discussion focuses on the importance of maintaining episodic memory and possible mechanisms through which it affects health following retirement.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Life-span and Life-course Studies
- Sociology and Political Science
- Geriatrics and Gerontology
- Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
- Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
- Industrial relations