Another Study Finds Retirement Age May Influence Dementia Risk

For many people, their careers play an important role in staying active and mentally engaged — two things that can potentially decrease drastically upon retirement, which may include excessive passive mental activities like watching TV and a sedentary lifestyle. Back in 2019, a study found that retiring at an early age may increase the rate at which older adults develop dementia. A new study underscores this, exploring how delaying retirement can influence dementia risk in a positive way.

READ: Too much TV may put your brain at risk, but not for the reason you think

The new research was recently published in SSM Population Health; it explores how postponing retirement may offer a protective effect, at least when it comes to cognitive function. The data was pulled from the US Health and Retirement Study and involved information on around 20,000 adults in the US ages 55 to 75.

By analyzing this data, the researchers found that regardless of one's career, education, or gender, retiring at a later age seemingly provides a protective effect against dementia. In the case of this research, the delayed retirement age to potentially reap this beneficial effect is 67.

The study notes that waiting until at least age 67 to retire slows down the rate of cognitive decline, an issue that often leads to the development of dementia-related impairment in old age. The findings come amid growing public health concerns that Alzheimer's disease and dementia numbers will increase as modern lifestyles and medication help people live to older ages.

One of the researchers behind the study, Angelo Lorenti, explained:

In this study, we approach retirement and cognitive function from the perspective that they both come near the end of a long path of life. It begins with one's social origins in ethnicity, gender, and early-life social and economic status, goes on with educational and occupational attainment and health behaviors, and goes all the way up to more proximate factors such as partnership status and mental and physical health. All these kinds of factors accumulate and interact over a lifetime to affect both cognitive function and age at retirement.