Jobs that tax the brain may benefit you in retirement: study

Ann Arbor, MI – Working a mentally challenging job may help protect people from cognitive decline after they retire, concludes a new study from the University of Michigan.

As part of the study, researchers interviewed 4,182 people in the U-M Health and Retirement study eight times between 1992 and 2010. Participants were between 51 and 61 years old at the start of the study, and most had spent more than two decades performing the same type of work.

Based on self-reports of job demands and mental functioning tests, participants whose job was mentally demanding reported having better memories in retirement than their counterparts with less stimulating jobs. Their memory also declined at a slower pace, according to a U-M press release.

However, researchers said the findings do not prove cause-and-effect. Other possibilities: activities outside work were affecting mental health, or high-functioning workers chose the more mentally demanding careers.

Researchers advised employers to increase mental engagement and promote outside work learning activities.

The study was published online March 17 in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.