A recent study suggests that the earlier people retire, the more quickly their memories decline. Ergo, if you want to stay cognitively sharp, keep working.
People in the U.S., England and Denmark, where people tend to retire later, did better on memory tests than people in places like France, Italy and Spain, where they tend to retire earlier. Of course, people whose cognitive skills are declining may be more likely to retire early than those whose skills are still sharp, and retirement itself may not be the chief factor in play here.
Nevertheless, the finding is intriguing enough to want to learn more. What is it about ‘work’ that keeps the mind active: social interaction, mental tasks, habits of punctuality and trustworthiness, a specific type of job or work environment?
One can think of all sorts of policy implications: raise social security eligibility to 72, reduce pensions, tighten disability requirements – all in the name of promoting better mental health. We can’t afford to retire anyway. Now we have proof that it’s bad for us. Keep working. It’s the solution to all our problems.
See this month’s The Drift column (above) for a contrarian view.