My mother, Mary Louise, taught school for 35 years and she loved (almost) every day of it. “The children,” she would say often, “are such a joy.” Of course, not every child was always a joy, but in spite of her grumbling about having to get up early five days a week, she counted her blessings.
“I get up and I’m glad, because I think of the poor fellows who can’t get out of bed,” she said.
Many of us boomers probably maintain a like/dislike relationship with work. I personally crave it, especially now that I’m working on a new venture, my video series. I can’t imagine what I’d do without goals. Well, I can…but it wouldn’t be pretty. I need to be busy, productive and always learning.
Work works for me.
You’ll Do Better
I have company, according to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times by Katherine Schlaerth, gerontologist and associate professor emeritus at the USC School of Medicine.
In her experience, “most people just plain do better, both intellectually and physically, when they continue to work.” Otherwise, she sees patients with weight gain, hypertension and depression, facts substantiated by outside research.
A British study found that continuing to work reduced the risk of cognitive decline. Another U. S. study saw that productive engagement, which includes volunteering, is an important “pathway to health” in late life.
To work longer, those cognitive wheels need to keep turning, says Dr. Thomas Perls, director of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University.
“It is vital to have a cause to wake up to every morning,” he told ABC News Radio earlier this year. “There has to be something to get you up and keep you engaged.” It also helps if you’re an extrovert, who easily establishes friendships, thrives on relationships with others, handles stress well and scores low on neuroticism, he said. In other words, chill, if you will, live long and prosper.
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