Abandoning goals accelerates memory loss in retirement

Major lifestyle changes associated with retirement affect brain functions in older people. Previously, it was found that job abandonment leads to impaired cognitive abilities. Scientists at the University of North Dakota have studied how deteriorating brain function and changing life goals are associated with retirement. The subjects of the study were 732 people, the average age - 57 years. The participants included both retired people and those who continued to work. 

All of the subjects completed questionnaires asking participants to rate on a scale of one to four such statements as "I give up goals that are too high to avoid disappointment", "I feel relieved when I give up some responsibilities", etc. Experts also assessed the level of cognitive functions of participants, including memory, ability to make logical conclusions, and speed of information processing. 

It turned out that the greater the difference between the pre-retirement and post-retirement targets, the more likely it was that episodic memory would deteriorate dramatically in the first nine years after leaving work. Moreover, these changes concerned primarily women - the difference in pre-retirement and post-retirement dreams did not have such a pronounced impact on cognitive functions. 

- The results of the study showed that not everyone retiring is at risk of worsening cognitive abilities, - summed up the scientists. - After leaving work, there are many opportunities to maintain active intellectual activity. At the same time, personal initiative and motivation come to the fore at this stage of life, so people who are able to keep up with the difficulties and take responsibility for their lives are the winners. 

March 17, 2020, 12:43 p.m.

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