“If you want to stay sharp in your golden years, it’s best to get the hard yards in early — a new study has found that people with mentally demanding jobs fare better in the years after retirement.…Mental acuity and memory retention was found to be higher in retirees who had spent their careers in mentally stimulating roles, such as former physicians, air traffic controllers, and financial analysts. “Working in a job that involves a lot of thinking, analyzing, problem solving, creativity, and other complex mental processing is related to higher levels of cognitive functioning not only before retirement (while we are still working) but after retirement as well,” said lead author Gwenith G. Fisher in an email to Reuters Health.”
Study: Mental Work Demands, Retirement, and Longitudinal Trajectories of Cognitive Functioning. (Journal of Occupational Health Psychology)
- Abstract: Age-related changes in cognitive abilities are well-documented, and a very important indicator of health, functioning, and decline in later life. However, less is known about the course of cognitive functioning before and after retirement and specifically whether job characteristics during one’s time of employment (i.e., higher vs. lower levels of mental work demands) moderate how cognition changes both before and after the transition to retirement. We used data from n = 4,182 (50% women) individuals in the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative panel study in the United States, across an 18 year time span (1992–2010). Data were linked to the O*NET occupation codes to gather information about mental job demands to examine whether job characteristics during one’s time of employment moderates level and rate of change in cognitive functioning (episodic memory and mental status) both before and after retirement. Results indicated that working in an occupation characterized by higher levels of mental demands was associated with higher levels of cognitive functioning before retirement, and a slower rate of cognitive decline after retirement. We controlled for a number of important covariates, including socioeconomic (education and income), demographic, and health variables.
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