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Mentally stimulating jobs help prevent dementia

  • 2 Min To Read
  • a month ago

A recent study conducted by researchers from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, the Columbia Aging Center, and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has shed light on the potential link between occupational cognitive demands and the risk of cognitive decline in later life. The study, which involved over 7,000 volunteers aged 70 and above working in various occupations, found that individuals with low occupational cognitive demands had a higher risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia compared to those with more mentally stimulating roles.

The research emphasized the importance of engaging in mentally challenging tasks during midlife in order to maintain cognitive function in old age. Jobs that involved repetitive manual labor, such as janitorial work or delivering mail, were associated with a higher risk of cognitive decline, while more mentally stimulating roles like teaching and university lecturing were found to be protective against cognitive problems.

Interestingly, the study also noted that higher educational attainment had a somewhat protective effect, suggesting that education and occupational complexity both play a role in reducing the risk of MCI and dementia. The researchers highlighted the importance of lifelong cognitive engagement in reducing cognitive decline as individuals age.

While the study has some limitations, such as its associative nature and the lack of distinction between different types of cognitive demands, it provides valuable insights into the relationship between mental stimulation and cognitive health. The researchers recommend further research to validate these findings and identify specific occupational cognitive demands that are most beneficial for maintaining cognitive health in old age.

Overall, the study underscores the significance of using our brains through education and mentally stimulating tasks to potentially reduce the risk of cognitive decline as we age. By investing in cognitive engagement both at work and in our free time, we may be able to empower ourselves for better cognitive health in the future.

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