Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mentally challenging jobs may keep your mind sharp long after retirement

25.03.2014

A mentally demanding job may stress you out today but can provide important benefits after you retire, according to a new study.

"Based on data spanning 18 years, our study suggests that certain kinds of challenging jobs have the potential to enhance and protect workers' mental functioning in later life," said Gwenith Fisher, a faculty associate at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research and assistant professor of psychology at Colorado State University.

The research analyzed data on 4,182 participants in the U-M Health and Retirement Study, which surveys a representative sample of more than 20,000 older Americans every two years.

Participants were interviewed about eight times between 1992 and 2010, starting when they were between the ages of 51 and 61. They worked in a wide variety of jobs and had been doing the same type of work for more than 25 years, on average, before they retired.

Fisher and colleagues examined the mental requirements of each job that participants reported having during that period. These requirements included analyzing data, developing objectives and strategies, making decisions, solving problems, evaluating information and thinking creatively.

They also assessed participants' mental functioning, using standard tests of episodic memory and mental status. The tests included recalling a list of 10 nouns immediately after seeing it and also after a time delay, and counting backwards from 100 by sevens.

In addition, the researchers controlled for participants' health, symptoms of depression, economic status and demographic characteristics, including years of education.

They found that people who had worked in jobs with greater mental demands were more likely to have better memories before they retired and more likely to have slower declines in memory after retiring than people who had worked in jobs with fewer mental demands.

The differences at the time of retirement were not large, but they grew over time.

"These results suggest that working in an occupation that requires a variety of mental processes may be beneficial to employees," said Jessica Faul, an ISR assistant research scientist.

"It's likely that being exposed to new experiences or more mentally complex job duties may benefit not only newer workers but more seasoned employees as well," she said. "Employers should strive to increase mental engagement at work and, if possible, outside of work as well, by emphasizing life-long learning activities."

The study did not establish causal relations between mental work demands and cognitive change after retirement, the researchers said, so it could be the case that people with higher levels of mental functioning picked jobs with more mental demands. But the study did control for formal education and income.

"What people do outside of work could also be a factor," Fisher said. "Some people may be very active in hobbies and other activities that are mentally stimulating and demanding, while others are not."

Fisher's research is published this month in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. The U-M Health and Retirement Study is primarily funded by the National Institute on Aging with additional funding provided by the Social Security Administration.

###

Established in 1949, the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research is the world's largest academic social science survey and research organization, and a world leader in developing and applying social science methodology and in educating researchers and students from around the world. Visit http://home.isr.umich.edu.

Diane Swanbrow | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu

Further reports about: Health Retirement Social activities decisions developing employees factor levels symptoms variety

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Seahorse tails could inspire new generation of robots
03.07.2015 | Clemson University

nachricht Is Marriage Good or Bad for the Figure?
29.06.2015 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Surfing a wake of light

Researchers observe and control light wakes for the first time

When a duck paddles across a pond or a supersonic plane flies through the sky, it leaves a wake in its path. Wakes occur whenever something is traveling...

Im Focus: Light-induced Magnetic Waves in Materials Engineered at the Atomic Scale

Researchers explore ultrafast control of magnetism across interfaces: A new study discovers how the sudden excitation of lattice vibrations in a crystal can trigger a change of the magnetic properties of an atomically-thin layer that lies on its surface.

A research team, led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter at CFEL in Hamburg, the University of Oxford, and the...

Im Focus: Viaducts with wind turbines, the new renewable energy source

Wind turbines could be installed under some of the biggest bridges on the road network to produce electricity. So it is confirmed by calculations carried out by a European researchers team, that have taken a viaduct in the Canary Islands as a reference. This concept could be applied in heavily built-up territories or natural areas with new constructions limitations.

The Juncal Viaduct, in Gran Canaria, has served as a reference for Spanish and British researchers to verify that the wind blowing between the pillars on this...

Im Focus: X-rays and electrons join forces to map catalytic reactions in real-time

New technique combines electron microscopy and synchrotron X-rays to track chemical reactions under real operating conditions

A new technique pioneered at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory reveals atomic-scale changes during catalytic reactions in real...

Im Focus: Iron: A biological element?

Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and a half billion years ago.

Think of an object made of iron: An I-beam, a car frame, a nail. Now imagine that half of the iron in that object owes its existence to bacteria living two and...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

World Conference on Regenerative Medicine in Leipzig: Last chance to submit abstracts until 2 July

25.06.2015 | Event News

World Conference on Regenerative Medicine: Abstract Submission has been extended to 24 June

16.06.2015 | Event News

MUSE hosting Europe’s largest science communication conference

11.06.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Down to the quantum dot

07.07.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

Tundra study uncovers impact of climate warming in the Arctic

07.07.2015 | Earth Sciences

Transition from 3 to 2 dimensions increases conduction, MIPT scientists discover

07.07.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>