While retiring from the workforce accelerates cognitive decline, a new study from Luxembourg found that returning to work can slow that loss of cognition for most people.
According to The Jerusalem Post, researchers analyzed databases of a total than more than 43,000 men and women ages 43 and older from South Korea and the U.S. By examining employment records and performance evaluations of cognitive tasks, they found that leaving the labor market has a detrimental effect on the cognitive state of the adults of both countries.
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However, in South Korea, people who returned to the workforce had an improvement in their cognitive status, while this phenomenon was not experienced across the board in the Americans.
Experts say that the differences may be due to cultural variations between the two countries but emphasized that engaging in mentally stimulating work is shown to preserve cognitive function. This means challenging ourselves for as long as possible.
Going back to work after retirement can also help achieve financial stability, and more retirees than ever are considering taking the plunge. In 1985, 10.8% of those over the age of 65 were part of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Between 2014 and 2024, the labor force growth rate is expected be 55% for 65-to 74-year-olds, and a whopping 86% for workers 75 years and older, compared with a 5% increase in the labor force in general.
While this has been a decades-long trend, it’s also tied to the COVID-19 pandemic, says Progressive. AARP estimated that 1.7 million people who retired during the pandemic are reversing their retirement. Some are doing it to pad their retirement accounts to fight off inflation, while others simply crave the social connections or their pre-retirement life.
Reversing your retirement can have multiple benefits for your physical and mental health:
• Boost your income. As inflation rises, your retirement savings may not last as long as you’d hoped. An added paycheck can give you peace of mind.
• Stay sharp. “Move it or lose it” applies to the brain, too. When you work in retirement, you exercise your brain in new ways every day, whether its learning new technology or interactions with different people.
• Create a community. Retirement can feel isolating, so returning to the workforce can help you foster a new sense of community and connection with others.
• Find a purpose. If you don’t need to rely on a paycheck, you may be able to focus on a job that gives you great pleasure rather than great pay. This increases a feeling of satisfaction.
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