When early retirement equals mental retirement and memory decline

The New-York Times reports on the study pub­lished a few days ago in the Jour­nal of Eco­nom­ic Per­spec­tives, “Men­tal retirement”:

… Data from the Unit­ed States, Eng­land and 11 oth­er Euro­pean coun­tries sug­gest that the ear­li­er peo­ple retire, the more quick­ly their mem­o­ries decline.

… what aspect of work is doing that, Dr. Suz­man said. “Is it the social engage­ment and inter­ac­tion or the cog­ni­tive com­po­nent of work, or is it the aer­o­bic com­po­nent of work?” he asked. “Or is it the absence of what hap­pens when you retire, which could be increased TV watching?”

Com­ments: This new study is anoth­er piece of evi­dence accu­mu­lat­ing with more and more oth­ers sug­gest­ing that a brain healthy life-style requires con­stant cog­ni­tive chal­lenge to help main­tain high-lev­el cog­ni­tive func­tions. Whether it is speak­ing mul­ti­ple lan­guages, phys­i­cal­ly exer­cis­ing or stay­ing men­tal­ly active, our every­day life can pos­i­tive­ly impact our brain health.  Some­thing to keep in mind after retirement…and to even retire the word “retire­ment”!

The results are also intrigu­ing because work­ing com­bines mul­ti­ple aspects of a brain-healthy lifestyle (social engage­ment, men­tal stim­u­la­tion) with aspects not so good for the brain (stress, absence of phys­i­cal exer­cise in some cas­es). How­ev­er, it seems that, over­all, the good aspects of work­ing take over the bad ones as far as mem­o­ry func­tions are concerned.


  1. Riz Lee on October 15, 2010 at 6:40

    its real­ly heart touch­ing study..

  2. Ahmed on October 16, 2010 at 10:31

    Why would you ever real­ly retire? Love what you do and you can be suc­cess­ful into “old age”

  3. Jenny Brockis on October 17, 2010 at 5:57

    It’s inter­est­ing isn’t it.
    Even after a rel­a­tive­ly short hol­i­day of a cou­ple of weeks I find it can take a cou­ple of days to ramp up to my nor­mal men­tal work­ing speed.
    If a per­son men­tal­ly dis­en­gages from the notion of “work” or sim­ply using their brain, then I could see how that per­son would very quick­ly lose their men­tal sharpness.
    The new pat­tern of retire­ment that has been emerg­ing, is for retirees to tran­si­tion out of their pre­vi­ous paid employ­ment into oth­er forms of work whether it be paid, part time or vol­un­tary. This arti­cle sup­ports their choice of remain­ing men­tal­ly engaged by report­ing the ben­e­fits of keep­ing cog­ni­tive­ly engaged.

  4. Dave Z on October 21, 2010 at 6:05

    This is a com­plete gen­er­al­iza­tion. Check out Bolles’ “The Three Box­es of Life” some­time (the author also writes “What Col­or is Your Para­chute, with updates con­tin­u­ous­ly). In TTBL, the hypoth­e­sis is made that if we all active­ly engaged in work, play, and edu­ca­tion with equal vig­or, we might not extend our life­times in chrono­log­i­cal years, but we would have more mean­ing­ful lives.

    To say that “retire­ment” is any kind of career end is a lit­tle hasty. Rush­ing to judge our col­leagues for occa­sion­al time off from work — assum­ing that finan­cial secu­ri­ty or fam­i­ly oblig­a­tions are not hurt as a result — is not fair to any­one, and implic­it­ly assumes that we are all doomed to work con­tin­u­ous­ly in a sin­gle invol­un­tary stretch until being retired at a time when we can not longer eas­i­ly adapt to a lifestyle requir­ing self-moti­va­tion and discipline

English About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.

English About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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