Is Retirement Unhealthy?

Retirement may be detrimental to the brain. Is working more hours the answer? In the first year of retirement, short-term memory declines by 30%.

When we retire, we may be giving up more than staff meetings and desk lunches. Work’s social contact and mental demands might be beneficial to our mental health. According to a recent study, working longer, making decisions, and being surrounded by diverse individuals are all beneficial to brain function.

Short-term memory declines about 30% in the first year of retirement, according to Mitch Anthony, author of “The New Retirementality” and a retirement counselor.

Boredom is a true phenomenon. The human race needs constructive activities. Otherwise, life lacks meaning, said Anthony. Numerous retirees report being busy. Busy? Performing what? Doing work 18 levels below your pay grade is detrimental.

Additionally, varied people and ideas in the workforce stimulate diverse thought. In the opinion of Robert Laura, the creator of the Retirement Coaches Association and the Retirement Intelligence Assessment, as older people retire, their sphere of influence shrinks, and their thinking becomes more limited.

Laura stated it’s true that if you don’t use it, you lose it. Without a job and the social contacts it provides, individuals watch television for 40 hours each week.

This month, Binghamton University researchers published a new study in “The Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization,” highlighting this issue with the lack of social contact in retirement and cognitive decline.

Binghamton University’s Plamen Nikolov, an assistant professor of economics, and Shahadath Hossain, a doctoral student in economics, examined China’s New Rural Pension Scheme (NRPS) and the Chinese Health and Retirement Longitudinal Survey (CHARLS) to determine how retirement plans impacted cognitive performance among plan participants. CHARLS, a nationally representative survey of Chinese adults aged 45 and older, explicitly evaluates cognition with an emphasis on episodic memory and components of mental state.

Nikolov discovered that the new pension policy had considerable negative impacts on the cognitive functioning of senior citizens. In neurobiological research, delayed recollection is regarded as a key predictor of dementia. Therefore it is the most significant signal of cognitive decline, according to him.

The pension scheme had more negative impacts on females, and Nikolov concluded that the findings corroborate the mental retirement theory, which states that decreasing mental engagement leads to a decline in cognitive abilities.

Participants in the program report considerably lower levels of social engagement, including volunteering and social contact, compared to non-beneficiaries. The study showed a robust correlation between greater social isolation and cognitive deterioration in the elderly, Nikolov remarked. Social engagement and connectivity may be the single most influential element in determining cognitive function in old age.

While Nikolov discovered that pension benefits and retirement contributed to enhanced physical health, the program had a considerably higher detrimental impact on social activities, mental fitness activities, and social engagement.

Nikolov said that the results were comparable to the unfavorable findings about the same difficulties in other countries, such as the United States, England, and the European Union. This, he said, illustrates that retirement impacts individuals in a manner that is more uniform than was previously believed.

Nikolov hopes that their findings will impact how retirees perceive their retirement activities from a more holistic viewpoint and pay special attention to their social engagement, active volunteering, and participation in activities that promote their mental acuity.