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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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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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