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Later Retirement May Delay Dementia

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, May 18, 2009 1:19 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia, Alzheimer's Association, Employment, Elderly, Public Health

Staying on the job longer may delay the onset of dementia, say British researchers.

Workplace Stimulation May Fight Alzheimer's



IMAGE SOURCE:  Wikimedia Commons/ Alzheimer’s Dad/ author: JJRD


Staying on the job longer, may offset the mind-robbing effects of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new British study.

Each additional year spent on the job was found to equal about six-weeks in the delay of dementia, find researchers from King’s College in London.

Researchers analyzed data from 1,300 Alzheimer’s disease patients taking into account their education, employment, and retirement age and the impact of those factors on the onset of the disease, one form of dementia.

“In this group there was no effect of education or employment but a significant effect of retirement age, where for the 382 males in the study those who retired later tended to develop disease symptoms later. An extra year of work delayed the onset on average by 6 weeks.

“The possibility that a persons’ cognitive reserve can still be modified later in life adds weight to the “use it or lose it” concept where keeping active later in life has important health benefits including reducing dementia risk,” said Simon Lovestone, one of the paper's co-authors, in a press statement.

The study is published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 

Dementia is caused by the death of brain cells. Experts theorize that keeping cells connected is the result of staying mentally active. That’s the theory behind the finding that a higher education reduces the risk of dementia, although in this study education did not appear to be a factor. 

There could be other reasons people retire early such as complications from diabetes, or high blood pressure, which are also linked to an increase the dementia risk, reports the BBC

The researchers note that not all retirement becomes boring, with some remaining intellectually stimulated after they leave a job.  Exercise is also linked to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

As people retire later in life to stay financially solvent, this finding may be a silver lining.

Risk Factors

Another study on Alzheimer’s- this one published in the journal Neurology, found that people who scored highest measuring the risk of developing dementia were underweight, did not drink alcohol, had coronary bypass surgery, and were slow at performing tasks such as buttoning a shirt.  These factors were in addition to an older age, low test score on thinking, and having a gene linked to Alzheimer’s disease.   

The Numbers

Alzheimer’s Disease International reports there are about 30 million with dementia, the most common form of dementia.

By 2050 that number is expected to quadruple. To put it another way, every 71 seconds a person gets Alzheimer’s disease. By the year 2050, that figure will change to every 33 seconds.

The Alzheimer’s Association is calling on Congress and President Obama to double research funding for the incurable illness by 2011, to $1 billion a year.

The Alzheimer’s Association provides a phone line 877-474-8259 to contact a local office and offers information on the Ten Signs of Alzheimer’s at www.alt.org/10signs   #

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