Retirement at this age may protect brain function

Dragana Gordic /

A recent study showed that working a little later in life – up to age 67 – may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Rather than being something that increases cognitive function, working longer is associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline and also appears to protect against cognitive impairment caused by certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, say researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany.

The researchers say the protective effect appears to transcend gender, education, and occupation.

The findings are based on an analysis of data from the Health and Retirement Study, a long-term survey of Americans over 50 conducted by the University of Michigan and supported by the National Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration.

Max Planck researchers studied data on more than 20,000 Americans aged 55 to 75 who participated in the labor force sometime between 1996 and 2014.

The researchers noted that many high-income countries have fallen behind the legal retirement age. For example, in the United States, the full retirement age for Social Security benefits has been raised from 65 to 67, in the case of people born in 1960 or later.

These changes may have unintended and beneficial consequences, the study authors wrote in the journal SSM – Population Health:

“The clear indication is that younger cohorts, who have a larger statutory retirement age, may indeed have the lasting protective effect of deferred retirement against cognitive decline.”

The findings mirror those of a 2013 French study that looked at nearly half a million independent workers in France and found a link between working later in life and a reduced risk of dementia.

Of course, it would be silly to stay in a job you simply don’t enjoy in the hope that it will help stave off dementia. Fortunately, there are plenty of options out there for finding the work you want to do, rather than the work you have to do.

Money Talks News founder Stacey Johnson discussed this topic recently in his podcast The Pros and Cons of Working in Retirement.

For more tips, check out “20 Great Part-Time Jobs for Retirees.”

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