Early retirement sounds like a dream to most of us, but it can actually increase your risk of dementia.
A study of people in rural China found that people who stop working around the age of 60 suffer more acute cognitive decline than their peers.
Researchers believe that most people’s brains are most stimulated while working and socializing in an office or work environment.
Experts recommend that people play word games and read in retirement to stay mentally sharp and avoid cognitive problems.
A grandmother smiles as she spends time with her granddaughter.
The latest study, published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organizationused data from China’s National Rural Pension Scheme (NRPS).
The NRPS was created in 2009 to provide income support for the elderly, made up of both central government contributions and voluntary contributions.
People can start participating in the program at age 16.
To this day, almost all rural residents in China who are 60 years of age or older are eligible for the pension program, which is a voluntary rather than a mandatory option.
“The program was introduced due to China’s rapidly aging population and in an effort to alleviate old-age poverty,” said Plamen Nikolov, assistant professor of economics at Binghamton University, State University of New York (SUNY). ), in New York and lead author of the study.
The researchers analyzed this program using a cognitive survey called the China Longitudinal Health and Retirement Survey (CHARLS) to see how retirement plans affect cognitive performance.
Questions were asked about complex financial decisions, your health, and long-term care decisions.
Participants in the pension program reported a reduced incidence of regular alcohol use compared to the previous year, which the researchers said was positive.
But they also found that participants reported lower rates of social interaction and volunteering than non-recipients.
When the researchers dug deeper, early retirees also did worse on cognitive tests.
The study revealed that the greatest indicator of cognitive decline was delayed recall, a measure commonly associated with predicting dementia in a patient.
“People in areas that implement NRPS score significantly lower than people who live in areas that don’t offer NRPS,” Nikolov said.
The team said they couldn’t be sure early retirement was the true cause of cognitive decline, and they don’t rule out other lifestyle and socioeconomic factors.
But Nikolov said there’s no question that older people should participate in social activities to prevent dementia.
‘Social engagement and connectedness may simply be the most powerful factors for cognitive performance in later life.
WHAT IS DEMENTIA?
Dementia is a general term used to describe a variety of neurological disorders.
A GLOBAL CONCERN
Dementia is a generic term used to describe a variety of progressive neurological disorders (those that affect the brain) that affect memory, thinking, and behavior.
There are many types of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.
Some people may have a combination of different types of dementia.
Regardless of the type that is diagnosed, each person will experience dementia in a unique way.
Dementia is a global concern, but it is seen more often in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live to a very old age.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED?
The Alzheimer’s Society reports that there are currently over 900,000 people living with dementia in the UK. It is projected to increase to 1.6 million by 2040.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting between 50 and 75 percent of those diagnosed.
In the US, there are an estimated 5.5 million Alzheimer’s sufferers. A similar percentage increase is expected in the coming years.
As a person’s age increases, so does the risk of developing dementia.
Diagnosis rates are improving, but many people with dementia are thought to remain undiagnosed.
IS THERE A CURE?
There is currently no cure for dementia.
But new drugs can slow its progression and the sooner it is detected, the more effective the treatments can be.
Source: Alzheimer’s Society