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Delaying Retirement May Prevent Dementia

A lot of individuals look forward to their retirement and others want to retire before retirement age. However, if you’re planning on retiring early you may want to think again. Studies show that retirement may have an adverse effect on your brain function.

In fact, evidence shows that if your stay longer on workforce. The better your mental activity and overall mental health may be.

For Americans, who are tending to stay in the workforce for longer periods of time, this is great news. This allows for more time to build their retirement nest eggs while sharpening their minds. For policymakers, this presents an interesting approach to retirement. Particularly the question of what is the best age to leave the workforce.

 Best recommendation: Don’t leave the workforce too soon

We briefly touched on this subject in an earlier article. New evidence discoveries about early retirement can associate with mental decline.

According to Esteban Calvo, sociologist with the Columbia Aging Center and Institute of Public Policy at the Diego Portales University in Chile, retiring early can have detrimental effects on your mental sharpness. Calvo is currently conducting a study of roughly 100,000 individuals in 21 countries. The study is to see in-depth the impacts of leaving the workforce too early.

This study focuses on overall health, chronic diseases, happiness levels and cognitive functioning. So far, the results show one thing: the earlier you retire, the more harmful it is to your mental health.

This may not mean much for many Americans. Calvo’s study is showing that the optimal age for retirement hovers somewhere in the late 60s. Most Americans are working well past the US average age of retirement – 62 and on the rise, according to a recent Gallup Poll –  the numbers of declining mental health will be less than countries with earlier retirement ages.

Retirement in other places

In some European countries, where the retirement ages is 70 years old. Studies expects to find more favorable results relating to mental sharpness and ability to perform daily activities.

A large reason for this improvement in mental well being is that later retirees find themselves living their lives at the same pace as their peers, instead of spending time alone while others are at work. This pace allows for more socialization and helps ease the feeling of isolation and depression.

Individuals who experience anxiety and depression over leaving the workforce may also be at risk for developing dementia. Losing the mental stimulation and opportunities for socialization that come with the working environment. Can get to cause stress that increases a retiree’s risk for cognitive impairment.

This is because work that is engaging and challenging stimulates brain development.

In countries where the labor force of men in their mid-to-late 60s was significantly less than younger men. Such as in Austria and France, where cognitive function was lower in comparison to countries like the United States and Denmark, where the age range for labor participants is higher. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives found that participating in a mentally engaged lifestyle reduces the risk of dementia.

In 2013, a study conducted by the University of Padova confirmed this hypothesis, finding that early retirement is associated with the onset of dementia. That same year, INSERM, a French research agency, found that the risk for dementia decreased by over 3{bc669dfb3651bb8509a96034cbe7494d3a811fc0eedf0ddccb239fb9cb737439} for each year an individual remained in the workforce.


If you are excited to exit the workforce, the good news is that this work does not mean you have to stay in your current position. In fact, volunteering, learning a new language or learning a new skill could also help stave off dementia during your later years.

It is important to note that simply retiring doesn’t lead to dementia. How long you are retired seems to have a significant impact in cognitive deterioration. Along with other factors such as childhood performance in certain subjects (such as math), location and type of work.

The latter is particularly important: the type of work you do has a large impact on your brain function. The Columbia Aging Center found in a 2014 study of assembly workers that the number of times an individual changed tasks over a span of time the better their cognitive performance was. This evidence shows that complexity of work performance is just as important as how long one remains working.

While these studies should not be looked at as a case to ditch your retirement plan, it is interesting to note that remaining engaged – especially throughout your post-working years – can improve your overall health and wellbeing. If you’re planning on sticking to your original retirement plan, make sure it includes activities that engage your brain. Go ahead and find the ones that are the most beneficial to your overall mental well-being.