Work can hold off cognitive decline

Is cognitive decline inevitable with aging? The short answer is no, according to research that shows various beneficial factors – including working — can help improve cognition later on in life.

In a 2014 study published in the medical journal Neurology, researchers examined the association between varying occupations and cognitive performance in later life. They compared IQ scores of more than 1,000 people at around age 11 and their general cognitive ability, processing speed, and memory almost 60 years later at age 70, well into or after their employment years. The result: Generally, the more complex the job, the better ranking of cognitive measures.

Likely as important is the work environment. Not only should it be stimulating, but low in stress, researchers said. They noted that while pressure can help drive and excel job performance and outcomes, too much workplace stress is known to be related with many behavioral and disease outcomes. In fact, job strain may influence decline in cognitive performance, according to research published in The International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.