Many of the nursing home abuse cases we handle involve elderly patients who are suffering from dementia. The frequency with which we see this diagnosis has mushroomed in recent years – largely due to the explosion in reported cases of Alzheimer’s disease, which is a form of dementia. While it’s imperative that nursing home patients receive competent, compassionate care, not all will, unfortunately. If there are things we can do, as inpiduals, to reduce the chances of our winding up in such an environment, it deserves our attention. Brain science researchers may have found something along those lines. New research suggests there may be a link between dementia and when and how people retire from active work.
The study, from France, which included more than 429,000 workers who had been retired on average for about 12 years, found that inpiduals who worked longer, experienced lower rates of dementia. Results seem to support the classic “use it or lose it” paradigm. For example, the study points out that someone who retired at age 65 was 15% less likely, on average, to suffer from dementia than someone who retired at 60. And, they found, the cognitive benefits of holding off retirement didn’t end at a retirement age of 65. If a person postpones their retirement even further, their risk of developing dementia is further reduced.
According to Carole Dufouil, one of the scientists who conducted the study, “For each additional year of work, the risk of getting dementia is reduced by 3.2 percent.” These researchers argue that the data suggests France should rethink its laws mandating that all civil servants retire at age 65. We agree. Many of the civil servant positions in this country are subject to the same mandate. While there is no uniform retirement age prescribed for private sector jobs, many businesses and corporations have policies which require retirement by a set age, as well. If studies such as this one are accurate in their conclusions, it may be necessary for us, as a society, to reevaluate our thinking on what should be a normal work life. And those of us who have been counting the months as we approach a retirement goal of 60, or 62, or even 65, might want to pause to consider what awaits us beyond the finish line.
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