Staying in work when you are older can help stave off memory loss, research suggests.
Those who remain in employment in their 60s have better memories than those who retire early, a study showed.
Workers in the UK, where the retirement age is currently 65, scored higher on a memory test than subjects in Germany and France, where people normally retire in their 50s.
Research: Those who stay in employment in their 60s are able to remember more than those who retire early, the study found
Those in America, where many work in some capacity their entire lives, scored the highest in the test.
The study backs up the notion that when it comes the grey matter you have to ‘use it or lose it’ in your later years.
A decline in memory is associated with diminished ability to think and reason.
The U.S. researchers looked at data on how people aged 50 or over responded to a basic memory test. It involved asking subjects to recall a list of 10 words immediately after hearing them and then 10 minutes later.
Given that a perfect score was 20, meaning all 10 were recalled each time, people in the U.S. did best, with an average score of 11. Those in Denmark and England were close behind, with scores of 10.
Researchers found the longer people keep working, the better they do on the tests when they are in their early 60s
In Italy, the average score was seven, in France it was eight, and in Spain it was six.
The researchers found there a clear correlation that the longer people work, the better they do on the tests when they are in their early 60s.
Dr Robert Willis, of the University of Michigan, and one of the authors of the study, said: ‘There is evidence that social skills and personality skills – getting up in the morning, dealing with people, knowing the value of being prompt and trustworthy – are important.
They go hand in hand with the work environment.’
Separate research has found walking just a mile a day could help ward off dementia.
Men and women who stroll at least six miles a week are mentally sharper in later life than those who use their car for even short journeys, a study found.
It is thought that regular exercise slows the shrinking of grey matter – the cells that process information – which can cause dementia.
The American study of 299 men and women aged 65 found that clocking up the miles cut the risk of memory problems by half, the journal Neurology reports. Those who walked six to nine miles a week also had more grey matter than those who were less active.
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