Early Retirement can Retire Memory
Research reveals that early retirement can affect memory in later life. The study was done in England, U.S., and eleven more European countries. Thus, it seems if you do not use your memory power, you may soon lose it.
Use It or Lose It
The research suggests that we need to work to keep functioning optimally. The study was published in The Journal of Economic Perspectives. Research reveals that retirees do more poorly in cognitive tests compared to working people. Even if retirees spend time solving Sudoku, crossword puzzles or memory exercises, there may be no improvement in their overall functioning. Such puzzles do not help improve cognitive behavior.
Study on Aging and Memory
In the U.S., the National Institute on Aging began a study about 20 years ago to check the memory levels of Americans aged above 50. This landmark research motivated European countries to begin similar surveys.
The Memory Test
The research test consists of 10 nouns which people have to listen to. Then, they have to recall the list immediately and after 10 minutes. If they can repeat all the nouns each time, they will earn a perfect score of 20. This test was chosen because memory power generally reduces with advancing age. This can affect the ability to reason and think.
U.S. citizens scored the maximum, an average of 11. People of England and Denmark followed with average scores of just about 10. France scored 8, Italy 7 and Spain just above 6.
Differences in Retirement Age
People retire at different ages in different countries. In Denmark, England and the U.S. people generally retire later. In these countries, about 70% of men continue to work even in their early 60s. In Spain, the figure is 38%, while in Italy and France, it is between 10 to 20%. These figures are important because the longer people work, the better their scores are in their early 60s.
What Kind of Work Stimulates Memory?
The research does not pinpoint what kind of work can help people retain their memory power. Not all types of work are mentally stimulating. But, work does have some positive factors such as retaining or improving personality and social skills. You get up in the morning, deal with various people, and know the value of trust and promptness. All these are associated with a work environment.
Focus of Future Research
Since work seems to impact cognitive functioning, future research should focus on which particular aspects of work help with memory. Is it because of the social interaction and engagement, or the cognitive components of work? Follow up studies on these questions can provide interesting and useful answers.