Memory Loss Slower for Working Women (MedPage Today):
Working women had slower memory decline as they aged than women who had not worked outside the home, a longitudinal study found.
Non-working mothers were twice as likely to develop memory impairment at age 70 as working married mothers, reported Elizabeth Rose Mayeda, PhD, MPH, of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health in Los Angeles, and co-authors.
… “While there’s no debate that managing a home and a family can be a complex and full-time job, our study suggests that engaging in paid work may offer some protection when it comes to memory loss — possibly due to cognitive stimulation, social engagement, or financial security,” she added.
The study had several limitations, the researchers said. Non-marital partnerships were not included in the analysis. The researchers relied on retrospective reporting of employment, marriage, and parenthood. They could not distinguish full-time from part-time employment and did not account for volunteer work. Memory performance was evaluated with a brief assessment of word recall and other cognitive domains were not examined.
Association of work-family experience with mid- and late-life memory decline in US women (Neurology). From the Abstract:
- Objective: To test the hypothesis that lifecourse patterns of employment, marriage, and childrearing influence later-life rate of memory decline among women, we examined the relationship of work-family experiences between ages 16 and 50 years and memory decline after age 55 years among U.S. women.
- Methods: Participants were women ages 55+ years in the Health and Retirement Study. Participants reported employment, marital, and parenthood statuses between ages 16 and 50 years. Sequence analysis was used to group women with similar work-family life histories; we identified 5 profiles characterized by similar timing and transitions of combined work, marital, and parenthood statuses. Memory performance was assessed biennially 1995–2016. We estimated associations between work-family profiles and later-life memory decline with linear mixed-effects models adjusted for practice effects, baseline age, race/ethnicity, birth region, childhood socioeconomic status, and educational attainment.
- Results: There were 6,189 study participants … Between ages 55 and 60, memory scores were similar across work-family profiles. After age 60, average rate of memory decline was 50% greater among women whose work-family profiles did not include working for pay post-childbearing, compared with those who were working mothers.
- Conclusions: Women who worked for pay in early adulthood and midlife experienced slower rates of later-life memory decline, regardless of marital and parenthood status, suggesting participation in the paid labor force may protect against later-life memory decline.
The Study in Context:
- Study: High Cognitive Reserve (CR) seen to significantly lower dementia risk even in the presence of high Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) neuropathology
- Build Your Cognitive Reserve: An Interview with Dr. Yaakov Stern
- Systematic review finds ten lifestyle factors that clearly impact the probability of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD)
- How learning changes your brain
- Solving the Brain Fitness Puzzle Is the Key to Self-Empowered Aging