DOES RETIREMENT SPEED MENTAL DECLINE?


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There’s a silver lining for Baby Boomers who can’t afford to retire: giving up work seems to aggravate cognitive decline. A recent study in China confirmed similar findings in other countries.

Almost a decade ago, China introduced a pension system for elders in its rural areas where multi-generational family care had collapsed as young adults moved to cities for work. The study shows that in areas where the pension scheme was implemented, measures of cognitive decline among pensioners showed a loss of almost 20 percent in the speed of recalling common facts like names or birthdays – a standard measure forecasting dementia.

Researchers in the U.S., Britain, and the European Union have found the same declines among retired elders. 

TRENDPOST: Retirement has shown broad health benefits, including better sleep and nutrition and less drinking and smoking. But it often separates people from key social networks and takes away mental activities that keep people sharp. The studies’ results  emphasize the need for retirees to plan for an alternative context to employment –fitness classes, Elderhostel courses, an activist group – that brings a sense of purpose that engages them mentally as well as socially.

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