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Seniors may stave off dementia by working longer

July 17, 2013

The common image of retirement has changed considerably in recent years. Not only are seniors more active than previous generations, but many adults are choosing to work past the traditional retirement age, and not just for the financial incentive. The additional mental stimulation and social engagement of remaining in the workforce may be an important part of a healthy lifestyle for seniors, according to results of a new study. Researchers from the French governmental agency INSERM found that delaying retirement could help lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

To reach their conclusion, study leaders relied on an analysis of the health records concerning more than 429,000 people who were self-employed. Researchers determined that each year participants put off leaving the workforce entirely, they reduced their risk of developing Alzheimer's or dementia by about 3 percent. Some experts believe that, whether it's working, reading or taking continuing education classes, any amount of mental stimulation will help seniors stave off cognitive decline.

"It's more staying cognitively active, staying socially active, continue to be engaged in whatever it is that's enjoyable to you [that's important]," June Springer, 90, who has a job as a receptionist, told CBS News.

Finding ways to prevent cognitive decline is one of the most pressing issues facing the senior living community, and there seems to have been progress made in recent years. A study published in The Lancet earlier this month found that 90-year-old adults are more likely to live longer than nonagenarians of a decade ago, and they also performed better on mental tests and were more able to complete activities of daily living.