Destined for Dementia? Not If You Have These Kinds of Jobs

It doesn't take a genius to figure this out but challenging work tasks may be a good thing for our brain.

Duh, right?  But a new study has found that professionals whose jobs require more speaking, developing strategies, conflict resolution and managerial tasks may experience better protection against memory and thinking decline in old age than their co-workers, according to a new study published in the April 29 issue of the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Our study is important because it suggests that the type of work you do throughout your career may have even more significance on your brain health than your education does,” says study author Francisca S. Then, PhD, with the University of Leipzig in Germany, at newswise.com. “Education is a well-known factor that influences dementia risk.” 

So much for crossword puzzles and exercise!

For the study, 1,054 people over the age of 75 were given tests that measured their memory and thinking abilities every one-and-a-half years for eight years.

The researchers also asked the participants about their work history and categorized the tasks they completed into three groups: executive, verbal and fluid. Examples of executive tasks are scheduling work and activities, developing strategies and resolving conflicts. Examples of verbal tasks are evaluating and interpreting information and fluid tasks were considered to be those which included selective attention and analyzing data, according to the website.

Not surprisingly, the study found that people whose careers included the highest level of all three types of tasks scored highest on the thinking and also had the slowest rate of cognitive decline. Over eight years, their rate of decline was half the rate of participants with a low level of mentally demanding work tasks. Among the three types of work tasks, high levels of executive and verbal tasks were distinctively associated with slower rates of memory and thinking decline.

So if you didn't have job responsibilities like this,are you destined for dementia?  Of course not.  The study just showed that challenges at work may build up a person’s mental reserve in the long-term, Then says.

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