Several other publications had the same idea as I about a title for this blog. It simply had to be “Use It or Lose It”—your brain, I mean. If you’re grousing about not being able to retire, know that this cloud has at least one silver lining. Delaying retirement may mean you also delay the onset and progress of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to a French study released preliminarily at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Boston.
As the Associated Press reported today, “Working tends to keep people physically active, socially connected and mentally challenged—all things known to help prevent mental decline.”
Many will continue working because we won’t have a choice, said a May survey from insurance company Northwestern Mutual. Seems four in ten of us will likely work into our 70s or 80s because of the inability to retire, the company said then.
And perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing that you keep thinking and don’t retire your brain.
Brain needs no days off
French scientists reviewed health and insurance data from more than 400,000 self-employed workers, and determined that every year of work postponed dementia by more than 3 percent.
“The researchers linked health and pension databases of self-employed workers who were living and retired as of Dec. 31, 2010. Workers had been retired on average for more than 12 years. Prevalence of dementia in this group was 2.65 percent,” said the study’s authors. They also determined “strong evidence of a significant decrease in the risk of developing dementia associated with older age at retirement, in line with the ‘use it or lose it’ hypothesis.”
The study showed an association between higher retirement age and lower dementia risk, but not a cause-and-effect relationship, noted Health Day via U. S. News & World Report.
Retired and now?
You’ll read more about this in coming days, and hopefully, you’ll think more about it, too. It’s brought to mind a few people I know who are retired and have confessed to being a bit lost. They’re disillusioned about why they looked so forward to retirement and are now looking back to the things that once motivated them—even as those things caused challenges, upsets and even disappointments, part and parcel of life’s ups-and-downs. They feel they’re waking up without goals.
This is such an about-face to what we’ve all been taught. As I’ve confessed, I’ll want to work until I can’t lift a finger to type on my keyboard. And I’ll want to stay physically active—as I am now—until it’s impossible.
Alzheimer’s incidence increasing
The Alzheimer’s Association says:
- An estimated 5.2 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease in 2013. This includes an estimated 5 million people age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals younger than age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.
- Today, an American develops Alzheimer’s disease every 68 seconds. In 2050, an American will develop the disease every 33 seconds.
- In 2013, the direct costs of caring for those with Alzheimer’s to American society will total an estimated $203 billion.
So about that brain? Work it, girl.