Is retirement bad for your brain?

Would postponing your retirement help with maintaining your mental acuity?

Is retirement bad for your brain?

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.


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    29th Jun 2015
    Golf is a good physical and mental challenge and you meet lots of nice people.
    29th Jun 2015
    i work 2 days a week,aged 66,keeps me active,knackers me after the second day,but i love it.Dealing with the public has it's moments,but the worst thing is the government taking 50c in the dollar over $260 a fortnight,raise it or decrease the 50c,especially when my wife looses half the 50c,doesn't work,and she still has a work bonus of $6500!!!
    29th Jun 2015
    Come on thommo....the internet trolls have to be paid you know. Yours does sound like a good balance though.
    29th Jun 2015
    We both get up at 6.30 am three days a week to go to aqua jogging. The other two week days we get up at 5.50 am to go to gym circuit and then aqua jogging. The social interaction is great and we plan lots of activities as a group. I know I would sleep in on these cold winter mornings as I hate getting up early but it has now become a habit and I look forward to it. I don't ever want to go back to work (teacher) and instead get my mental stimulation from planning and researching holidays! We are aged 64 and 70.
    29th Jun 2015
    You've got my vote.
    1st Jul 2015
    Agree, there is plenty to do in retirement. I retired at 55 (also teacher) and I'd never go back to it, although every year I do VCE exam supervision just to catch up with colleagues. My husband and I spend a lot of time on the road caravanning, now this involves a lot of mental thinking! In addition I'm a medium term trader, which involves checking up on the market every night. Part-time work?? NO NO NOT FOR ME.
    29th Jun 2015
    I retired 9 years ago aged 49. Can't wait for the day I get bored. after 30 years of very long hours in my own business there is not a day I wish I could go to work. Yes, I am probably brain dead
    30th Jun 2015
    I am with you tasmainia - I do not want to return to hard work (only just retired). Its someone else's turn! When I do get bored, I will find something else to do!

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