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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.

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4 Responses

  1. Riz Lee says:

    its really heart touching study..

  2. Ahmed says:

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

  3. 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 says:

    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

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Health & Wellness

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