A study of nearly half a million people in France has found that people who delay retirement have less risk of developing Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. That is the finding of one of the largest studies on this matter, carried out by INSERM, the French government’s health research agency, and it was presented at a recent conference in Boston. According to researchers, for each additional year of work, the risk of getting dementia is reduced by 3.2 percent.
Heather Snyder, Director of Medical and Scientific Relations at the American Alzheimer’s Association, says it appears staying mentally alert can help stave off the degenerative disease:
“These individuals that stay cognitively active, so continuing to work for a longer period of time, seem to have a lower risk of developing dementia or difficulty with their memory and thinking and reasoning.”
Researchers studied more than 429,000 workers, most of whom were shopkeepers or worked in crafts and trades. The results are clear: someone who retired at 65 had about a 15 percent lower risk of developing dementia compared to someone retiring at 60. Experts suggest that, even if people are retired, they have to keep their mind in exercise.
Heather Snyder advises that whether retired or not it is important to keep the brain stimulated: “Continue to be engaged in whatever it is that’s enjoyable to you. My parents are retired, but they’re busier than ever. They’re taking classes at their local university. They’re continuing to attend lectures, and they’re continuing to stay cognitively engaged and socially engaged in their lives.”
Do we need to work longer to delay Alzheimer’s? The debate is quite complicated, and involves social, ethical and political factors.
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