Monday, November 25, 2013

A good reason to work longer

Researchers at INSERM, the French government’s health research agency, studied 429,000 retirees in France who were formerly self-employed and discovered that their risk of having a diagnosis of dementia was reduced by 3.2% for each extra year they worked before retirement.
“In other words, all other risk factors being equal, those who retired at 65 years old had a 14.6% lower risk of getting dementia than those who retired at 60,” the scientist who led the study, Carole Dufouil, told me.
The link between later retirement and dementia was a bit stronger for men than women, she added.
“We were not surprised by the results, but we were surprised by the robustness of the findings,” Dufouil said. “Still, we need to be cautious as these results might not be generalizable. But this should encourage further research on the topic.”
More Reason to Stay Cognitively Active
Heather Snyder, Ph.D., director of scientific operations at the Alzheimer’s Association, says this new finding is another example of the importance of staying “cognitively active” as long as possible.
This study adds to the body of work that says doing things to continue keeping your brain active may be beneficial at reducing the risks of dementia,” Snyder said.
In the past, the idea of staying mentally engaged tended to mean things like doing the Sunday crossword puzzle, taking classes and reading. But the notion of working longer to fend off Alzheimer’s is fairly new.
Similar Study of Men, Work and Dementia
The French analysis echoes a 2009 study of 382 British male dementia patients by Cardiff University and the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. Those researchers found that every extra year that men worked beyond age 65 postponed the onset of their dementia symptoms by nearly six weeks.
Dufouil said looking at the two studies together provides “further evidence to the hypothesis that intellectual stimulation throughout life might protect against dementia by either preventing it or delaying it.”
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