Health Tip – Nov. 1 – The Secret Danger of Retirement
The longer you postpone retirement, the lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia may be. This finding comes from a French study of more than 400,000 retirees. For each additional year of work, the risk of dementia dropped by 3.2 percent.
The French investigators reviewed records on retirees, most of whom had been self-employed as shopkeepers or craftsmen, to establish the risks of dementia linked to age at retirement. After adjusting for other risk factors, the study showed that individuals who retired at 65 were 14.6 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those retiring at 60.
To make sure that a shaky mental state hadn’t been responsible for retirement, the researchers analyzed their data to eliminate people who developed dementia within five or 10 years of retirement. The upside of continuing to work include the mental challenges, social connections and physical activity involved, all of which can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s.
We know that people who participate in mentally stimulating activities such as reading, playing cards, doing crossword puzzles, learning a new language or taking courses on subjects that interest them are at lower risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, so it makes sense that people who continue to work beyond normal retirement age are also at lower risk.
Other research shows that the more years of formal education you have, the less likely you are to develop the condition. The theory is that challenging intellectual activity builds up rich neural connections that function as insurance against later brain-tissue losses, just as well-developed muscles maintain their integrity longer during periods of inactivity than atrophied muscles.