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Working Past Retirement Could Stave Off Dementia

Update Date: Jul 15, 2013 12:31 PM EDT

When people age, physical and mental health start to deteriorate. Since old age is inevitable, researchers have studied ways of preventing the decline from rapidly progressing. For physical health, researchers, medical professionals and health experts have recommended people to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle before reaching their senior years. For cognitive health, researchers have found several ways that seniors can stave off dementia. In a recent study published in Neurology, researchers found that being a bookworm could help stimulate the brain and preserve memory. In a new study presented today, researchers found that people who continued to work past retirement were at a lower risk of developing dementia.

In this study, headed by Carole Dufouil from the French government's health research agency, INSERM, the researchers found more evidence that seniors who exercised their brains more frequently were at a lower risk of getting dementia. In one of the largest study to date, the research team reviewed data on over 429,000 employees who were mostly shopkeepers and craftsmen. The data was compiled due to former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy who made Alzheimer's research a priority.

From the data, the researchers calculated that the average age was 74, which meant that the seniors were on average 12 years past the retirement age. The team found that nearly three percent of the seniors had dementia. The researchers also found that for every year after the retirement age, the risk of dementia was lowered. In order to check the data for the possibility that people who retired did so due to mental issues, the researchers analyzed the seniors who developed dementia within five and within 10 years post retirement. They found that mental decline was not the cause of the retirement.

This study suggests the seniors should continue to work and exercise their brains way past the retirement age of 65. In France, senior citizens in specific jobs are mandated to retire by 65. Due to the new research, this rule might need to be revised.

"People should work as long as they want," Dufouil said reported by Medical Xpress.

The findings were presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Boston, MA. 

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