Tag Archives: work

Retirement and Dementia

Dr. Paul Nussbaum, the Chief Scientific Officer at Fit Brains, shares his valuable thoughts on the topics of Retirement and Dementia:

It’s ironic how people work their whole lives toward the goal of retirement but when it does come, many suffer anxiety and depression towards the idea of having nothing to think about or do.

For many years I have spoken and written about my resistance to “retirement” the way the policy and concept is positioned and treated in the United States. It is true that there may have been good intent with the idea of retirement, but my guess is that nobody considered the health implications for the brain. This becomes increasingly important when we know that a passive, isolated, lonely, and segregated brain will atrophy when we stop working.

Retirement certainly does not have to be a time of passivity. Indeed, many people at all ages retire to a different and even busier life than when they were employed. However, a recent study of nearly a half-million people by the French government’s health research agency found that people who delay retirement have less risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.

It is believed work is related to physical activity, socialization, mental stimulation, all things known to be good for the brain and three of the five major pillars of Dr. Nussbaum’s Brain Health Lifestyle ® (see www.paulnussbaum.com)For each additional year of work, the risk of getting dementia is reduced by 3.2% according to the study.

The major finding is supportive of the “use it or lose it” theory and I will simply add to that by saying you should “use it in new and complex ways or lose it.”  The answer is not to delay retirement to have a healthy mind and fulfilling life, it is the importance of keeping your mind and body active even after retirement.  Keep a personally relevant reason for getting up each morning, and feel good about your daily contributions to those around you.

Strive to be relevant, useful, healthy, and active every day in your life.  For the days that aren’t as busy as others, you can still keep your mind active and stimulated with the Fit Brains Trainer app!

National Brain Health Policy

A recent report from the National Alzheimer’s Disease Association estimates nearly 10 million to 14 million of the baby boom generation (76 million strong) will be at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD). These numbers may actually underestimate the overall prevalence of boomers who will develop AD in their lifetime. This estimate places a heavy emotional, family and economic burden on the U.S. States given our current approach and over all understanding of the caregiver demands posed by AD. There is no reason to believe that similar nations across the world will be any different.

One method to begin addressing the rising epidemic of dementia is to establish a national or world priority on the human brain and dementia. Citizens of the great planet Earth need to have a basic understanding of their brain, something that is completely missing even in 2008. We cannot expect citizens to care for their brain if they do not understand it or the importance of a proactive healthy lifestyle across their lifespan. One idea is to include basics of brain and brain health in every elementary curriculum in the world.

National policy also has to prioritize research on treatment and prevention of dementia in ways we have not yet. Research is needed on how the brain functions, how diseases begin, new treatments for dementia, and innovation in the area of prevention. Health insurance companies should begin to incentivize lifestyles that promote brain health including lifelong learning, diets, meditation, and physical exercise. Those who continue to work or remain involved in society may be rewarded with some type of tax break. We need to think in terms of a Brain Enlightened Society.