Postponing retirement could benefit brain

By • Published: September 24th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Spending every day lounging on the shuffleboard court or hitting the bingo circuit sounds like a pretty fun way to spend your golden years post-retirement. But there may actually be a pretty cool bonus to continuing to work later in life. Scientists say putting off retirement can actually help stave off dementia.

In fact, French researchers say for every year a person delays retirement, their risk of developing dementia drops about 3.2 percent. That means people who retire at age 65 are about 15 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other less well-known forms of dementia than people who stop working at age 60.

According to a 2013 Gallup poll, the average of age of retirement in the United States is 61.

The scientists say it boils down to this: use it or lose it. Working is a way for seniors to stay engaged with other people and stay mentally stimulated. And you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to reap the cognitive benefits of continuing to punch in your time card at the office. The people in the study held a variety of jobs, such as baking and working in retail.

More than 5 million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer’s disease. And the older people get, the higher their risk is for developing dementia, Alzheimer’s or otherwise. There is no cure for this cognitive decline, but experts say there are things that might help reduce your risk.

Experts suggest sticking to a healthy diet loaded with veggies, fruits, fish and olive oil and staying physically active. And even if you’d rather retire and hit the hammock instead of burning the midnight oil at work, taking part in activities that stimulate your mind could work just as well to keep you sharp.

Trying new things, reading the news and staying involved with other people are all good ways to keep your brain in the game and have a little fun, too.