March 16 (UPI) – Setting goals after retirement can help protect against cognitive decline, a study published Monday in the journal Psychology and Aging offers.
In a survey of retirees and people who continued to work after a typical retirement age of 65, researchers found that retired women who “parted” – or left a career that had difficult goals or goals and became less ambitious after retirement – had a sharper decline in cognitive function than peers who remained employed.
However, they did not observe differences between retirees and working men, who were prone to a similar separation.
The authors believe that the higher socio-economic status of men in their study may have protected them from an early decline.
“Our results show that not everyone who retires is at greater risk of cognitive decline,” study co-author Jeremy Hamm, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of North Dakota, said in a press release.
“There are many opportunities to participate in mental activities during retirement, for example, to read or play word games,” he said, noting that due to age “these activities often need to be initiated independently and supported independently.”
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 million Americans live with some form of cognitive impairment. The risk of developing cognitive impairment in humans increases with age, and it is estimated that about 10 percent of those 50 years and older in the United States deal with decreased mental function.
Previous studies have linked retirement with an increased risk of cognitive decline, but little is known about the motivation factors that make a person more susceptible to decline, Hamm said.
For his study, he and his colleagues analyzed data from Midlife in the United States, a national survey of more than 7,100 respondents designed to assess the health of an aging population. Researchers used a subset of 732 survey participants to study differences in cognitive function between adult retirees and similar people who continued to work after reaching retirement age.
The team measured the level of fragmentation of the goals of the participants or their tendency to reduce their ambitions and reduce their commitment to personal goals. Participants were asked to rate their agreement with statements such as “To avoid disappointment, I don't set my goals too high” and “I feel relieved to be relieved of some of my duties,” on a scale of one to four. ,
Participants also took a telephone test to measure basic cognitive functions such as memory, reasoning, and processing speed.
In general, they found that retirees prone to disconnect had a sharper decline in cognitive functions — memory and decision-making — compared to peers who remained busy, while retirees and working men prone to disconnect did not differences.
“This study raises questions about how individual differences in motivation and gender can play a role in reducing cognitive abilities, and points out the potential importance of continuing to participate in mentally stimulating retirement activities,” said Hamm. “This can be a serious problem for people who tend to let go of their goals when faced with initial obstacles and setbacks.”
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