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HEalth, Aging and Retirement Transitions in Sweden
- Hearts Study (HEARTS)

Leaving work life for retirement is a major life event. Sometimes retirement changes life from one day to the next. How do people cope with this transition? – This is what will be studied in the research project HEalth, Aging and Retirement Transitions in Sweden – Hearts Study (HEARTS)

HEARTS focuses on the retirement process. Retirement tests our ability to adapt, not only to age-related biological changes, but also to possibilities and expectations in our social environment. Retirement changes our lifestyle, including physical, intellectual and social activities, and therefore also impacts our health and psychological well-being. HEARTS aims to find out more about the transition from work-life to life as a retired individual and how this process is handled.

To find out more about the transition process, HEARTS will monitor health and mental well-being both in persons moving towards retirement, and newly retired persons, in a so called longitudinal study. Participants will be followed annually over several years, making it possible to follow their individual retirement process.

Retirement – a pivotal event

When leaving the work-force, we face new challenges and possibilities. Although retirement is an important life event most of us will face, or already have experienced, we know surprisingly little about the impact of retirement on our health and mental well-being. The question of how we can adapt to this transition, and possible impact of the transition on our well-being, our physical and psychological health, during the process, is very intriguing for the researcher.

What we do know is that changes in our health and well-being often appear in late life. Therefore research on aging in Sweden increasingly has focused on longitudinal studies, monitoring persons until advanced age and sometimes until the end of life. This research has also revealed that events in early life often have a large impact on late-life outcome. Therefore, in order to understand late life health, ageing research increasingly has focused on a life course perspective.

New generations, new challenges

So far research on adulthood and age have also mostly focused on persons born in the early years of the twentieth century. But living conditions have changed quite dramatically during the last century. Today we have a rather different view of ageing and old age. People in generations born later live longer, also often with their health preserved until late in life. Our prospects, expectations and claims of life in old age differ from our parents. One big difference is that women born in the late twentieth century have been involved in work-life to a higher degree than before, and naturally this will have an influence on their health and well-being. So, persons approaching retirement today, in many ways will differ from earlier cohorts. Because of this, available research is not likely applicable to retirement and persons entering retirement today.

Therefore HEARTS will monitor persons born in late 1940ies and early 1950ies, whose experiences of life and society differ from their parents. Using a life course perspective it is also important to investigate early life factors and events that might influence change or stability in health and well-being. HEARTS therefore also will investigate personality, memory, reasoning ability, social network, life style and patterns of activity in more detail.

The retirement process: continuity and change

The actual retirement, when it is launched, is a pivotal life event that marks the transition into a new period in life; a period signaling ageing both to the individual and society. The few studies undertaken so far suggest that life for most retiree goes on pretty much as usual, with no major changes. This in spite the fact that retirement requires adapting to new conditions, new roles and new expectations that can influence identity and self-image.

Persons born in late 1940ies and early 1950ies have a longer life expectancy than earlier generations. Many also experience a relatively good health and an active, functioning life when they retire. Possibilities to continue working into advanced age have increased and the pension-system will most probably adjust the age of retirement upwards. Retiring today means facing different challenges than earlier generations. However, as an example, to many retirees a negative change in economy may mean restricted possibilities to engage in ones interests. This can lead to decreased psychological health. There are many reasons to expect changes in health, well-being, activities and life-style after retirement. Throughout our lives, we are all individuals, differing in particulars. A relevant questions is; how does retirement affect these differences?

HEARTS is financed by FORTE (Forskningsrådet för hälsa, arbetsliv och välfärd).

Project Director: Professor Boo Johansson

For more information please contact;
Project Leader: PhD Marie Kivi

Steering board: Professor Linda Hassing, Associate professor Anne Ingeborg Berg, Associate professor Valgeir Thorvaldsson, PhD Isabelle Hansson

Contact HEARTS

Project director:
Boo Johansson, professor

Project leader:
Marie Kivi, PhD/researcher

Contact & Information:
phone: +46(0)731 - 401 959

Page Manager: Marie Kivi|Last update: 4/3/2020

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Utskriftsdatum: 2020-07-08