A Crazy Idea For Reducing Your Risk of Alzheimer’s: Keep Working - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on September 17, 2013

Delaying Retirement Can Reduce Your Risk of Developing Alzheimer's

If you’re among the growing number of baby boomers forced to delay retirement due to an insufficient nest egg, there may be a silver lining after all. As disappointing as it might be for many hopeful retirees, extending your stay in the workforce might actually be good for you after all.

A new study discovered that those who delayed retirement a few extra years reduced their chances of developing Alzheimer’s and other dementia-type diseases.

After analyzing the health and insurance records of almost half a million self-employed workers, researchers found that the risk of dementia decreased three percent each extra year after the average age of retirement (age 60). For workers who retired at age 65 instead of 60, for example, their risk of Alzheimer’s decreased 14 percent.

While doctors have long assumed cognitive activity was important in reducing a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s, these findings provide more substantial support that professional work might be considered an intellectually stimulating activity. While the study focused on self-employed workers, more research is needed to find a link between employees working in a company setting.

Alzheimer’s currently affects 5.2 million Americans and is the sixth leading cause of death in the country. Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s or dementia, although researchers are feverishly working to find one. Part of the delay in creating a cure lies in the struggle to determine what causes Alzheimer’s and how exactly it affects the brain.

To help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s, it’s recommended that you stay as mentally, physically, and socially active as possible. Doctors have even found a way to combine their research with modern technology, giving birth to the creation of games and programs designed to improve brain health, such as Luminosity and Fit Brains.

But if you’re not a tech junkie or the idea of delaying retirement doesn’t sound appealing, you can always try the following:

  • Discover a new hobby, or spend more time engaging in ones you already have. Adults who consistently engage in mental activities were almost three times less likely to develop dementia, according to the Rush Memory and Aging Project. This may include reading, writing, athletic activities, or even playing musical instruments.
  • Take more vitamin supplements. Antioxidants such as Vitamin E have been found to delay mental impairment in those with Alzheimer’s and can help protect cells against damage.
  • Get social. Some research suggests that those who engage in activities with others have fewer memory problems than those who spend more time alone. 

To find a Crozer-Keystone physician who's right for you, call 1-800-CK-HEALTH (1-800-254-3258). Learn more about Crozer-Keystone's Geriatric Medicine and Senior Health Services

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