Losing a job is always tough, but for people nearing retirement age, it may also be harmful to their health, results of a new study suggest.
Losing a job is always tough, but for people nearing retirement age, it may also be harmful to their health, results of a new study suggest. People who lost a job close to retirement age were more than twice as likely to have a stroke as people of the same age who had not lost a job, researchers report. “Our study has established that, for workers nearing retirement, the loss of a job is a salient experience associated with negative effects on health, including increased risk of stroke,” Dr. William T. Gallo at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, told Reuters Health. “The public, in particular older workers, physicians and occupational health care providers should be aware that involuntary unemployment in the years leading up to retirement may be a credible risk factor for adverse health events,” Gallo said. This is not the first time that Gallo and his colleagues have found that job loss can have a negative impact on health. Previously, the researchers reported an association between job loss and a decline in physical function and an increase in symptoms of depression, Gallo said. He also noted that there is some evidence of a link between job loss and the development of depression in a spouse, he said. In the current study, Gallo and his colleagues compared 457 workers who lost their job with 3,763 people who were still working. The average age of participants in the study was 55. During the 6-year study, people who had lost a job were not more likely to have a heart attack. But the odds of having a stroke were more than doubled in people who had lost a job, even after the researchers took into account risk factors for stroke. The study appears in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. It was funded by the National Institute on Aging and the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center at Yale. The study did not examine how being laid off may increase the risk of stroke, but Gallo and his colleagues speculate that losing a job close to retirement age leads to stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression, which may increase the risk. Gallo and his colleagues plan to follow the participants for several more years to measure the long-term health effects of job loss. (SOURCE: American Journal of Industrial Medicine: Reuters Health News: June 2004.)