As we age, there are few things we fear more than losing our mental capacity. So can postponing your retirement help delay cognitive decline? This certainly may be the case with research showing that those who work part-time during their retirement years may stay healthier for longer.
There’s something health preserving about work. It provides social, physical and mental activity, as well as new experiences and opportunities for interaction with other people. This helps to drive the growth of brain cells, which, in turn keep you sharp.
Work also offers routine, which means you’ll be more likely to go to bed and get up at the same time each day. This helps to regulate your sleep cycle, which is also important for mental and physical health. Other benefits of work include not overeating or oversleeping, of which people tend to do more when they’re not working.
What about playing brain games? Unfortunately, crosswords, Sudoku or computer games cannot fully challenge the brain. What’s needed for a wide-ranging effect is complexity – i.e.human faces, social groups and intergenerational interactions. And work easily offers all of this, plus more.
If you can’t get to work, other options include finding activities that offer you the same type of mental stimulation as work does, such as getting involved in a community garden (instead of solitary gardening), studying in-person (as opposed to online), dancing (it’s mentally and physically demanding) and orienteering.
Do you think postponing retirement would keep our brains sharper? Up to which age would you work? Would you work part-time, full-time or be self-employed? If you’ve retired, in which type of activities do you engage to keep you mentally sharp?
Read more at Baker IDI.