In a new study, researchers found that having a paid job is linked to slower age-related cognitive decline and memory problems
Cognitive decline and memory loss are big signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of California.
Previous studies on Alzheimer’s concentrated mainly on biological factors such as the presence of sex hormones like estrogen.
In the study, the team wanted to know social factors that could lead to Alzheimer’s as well as late-life changes in memory function.
They examined how differences in life experiences affect later life memory decline.
They looked at data from 6,386 women born between 1935 and 1956 in the US who took part in the Health and Retirement Study.
The women were asked about their employment, marital and parenthood status each year between the ages of 16 and 50.
They also completed memory and thinking tests every two years from the age of 50, for 13.8 years on average.
The researchers found that the rate of memory decline was similar for working mothers and working non-mothers.
But the fastest rate of memory decline was in non-working women.
This suggests that paid employment plays a stronger role in later-life memory decline than family structure.
The finding shows that paid employment may play an important role in later-life memory decline, which is a major symptom of Alzheimer’s.
These initial findings support ongoing efforts to increase the number of women entering or staying in the workforce.
Future work needs to explore links between employment and brain health.
One author of the study is Dr. Jana Voigt, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK.
The study was presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2019.
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