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French Discover Shocking New Treatment for Dementia


We may have finally found a cure for dementia: more work. French researchers have released the results of the largest study to date on retirement and mental health. They found that older participants who delayed their retirement were less likely to get dementia than those who retired earlier. The AP has more:

“For each additional year of work, the risk of getting dementia is reduced by 3.2 percent,” said Carole Dufouil, a scientist at INSERM, the French government’s health research agency.

These results point to the truth that work is not just a tedious necessity we cope with in order to survive; it’s a human right as well as an important and rewarding part of a full and well-balanced life. Working longer is a key way for individuals to live better and more fully and today it’s become a crucial key to society’s overall health.

Dementia is a huge cost to our health care system. Some predict that it will only get more expensive as the boomers age, while others think that the rate will decrease as the population gets healthier and more educated. But either way it’s likely to cost us a significant amount of money for some time. And even when early retirement doesn’t translate into dementia, pegging federal entitlement programs to yesterday’s normal retirement ages is simply unsustainable.

Delaying retirement can stave off dementia, help keep our lives rich and full, and save us tons of money. Smart retirement policy will always keep these facts in mind.

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  • ljgude

    I think it has been fairly obvious for some time that the principle ‘use it or lose it ‘ applies to our bodies and our mental abilities. I am fortunate in that I have found the most rewarding work of my career well into retirement. I don’t get paid for it, but it is far more successful than what i did get paid for. So I work hard to keep my body up and improve my mental productivity. In my case being a late bloomer motivates me to stay productive.

  • Andrew Allison

    It does seem clear that the brain is a muscle, and needs exercise. That, as noted below, does not require a job in the conventional sense. But

    “Work is human right” is ridiculous on ios face! Hasn’t the infamous Blue Model created enough unaffordable “entitlements” without adding the demand that society provide everybody with a job? The fact, like it or not, is that there are as many jobs as an economy can support.

    • Jacob Arnon

      Gee Andrew I thought “conservatives” would like to see everyone who can work, work.

      Besides creating jobs could only benefit our national economy.

      • Andrew Allison

        Not being one, I don’t presume to know what “conservatives” think. We could create more jobs by putting everybody on part time, which wouldn’t benefit the national economy one whit. My point was that jobs are not created out of thin air but by a growing economy.

        • Jim__L

          Jobs are created by people with the hustle to recognize what needs doing, and set up a way to do it sustainably (i.e., profitably.)

          This can seem like “thin air”, in that some jobs don’t take a whole lot of capital to create. VM is a big proponent of this type of job, as far as I can tell.

          A growing economy can create a nice feedback loop in that can create needs and makes profitability easier, but ultimately the created jobs are what grow the economy, not the other way around.

          Despite the fact that America typically only spends about 20% of its time in recession, something like half the companies in the Fortune 500 list were founded during recessions. If a growing economy were a prereq for creating jobs, you’d expect that number to be far less than 20% instead of close to (and maybe more than) half.

  • Jacob Arnon

    Question about the study:

    Did the study specify which people were more likely to get dementia after they retired?

    Was there a difference between low skilled workers performing physical tasks and those who worked primarily with their their intellect?

    (An aside: I find it ironic that in France a country that prides itself on intellectual achievements and which has a government sponsored media where more intellectually demanding programs are the norm,, not to mention the government “guided” news and commentary programs,

    Perhaps government sponsored TV programs causes dementia.

    • Corlyss

      “Was there a difference between low skilled workers performing physical tasks and those who worked primarily with their their intellect?”

      Good catch, reading in the study of nuns from some years ago which showed that those will only minimal education and little intellectual stimulation suffered earlier onset of Alzheimer’s than others who had more education and stimulation.

  • Maynerd

    The French study is an interesting premise but far from proven.

    One needs to review the nitty gritty details of the study. Selection bias can be a huge problem.

    Those people who delayed retirement may have higher cognitive abilities. Those afflicted with the early stages of dementia may be much less interested and/or able to continue to work. Therefore there may be a predetermined bias towards retirement for those developing dementia.

  • Corlyss

    “We may have finally found a cure for dementia: more work.”

    There was so much political motivation to find such a results, I won’t be convinced until it has been thoroughly vetted by a broad longitudinal study lasting decades. Western nations are struggling to nudge retirement ages up even a fraction; they have idle youth who long ago cued up for the cushy jobs their seniors have; their fiscal resources groan under the Boomer bow wave. If they can put up having to pay out those sums, even if it means generations as unfit to lead as Prince Charlie is, well, they’ve found another way to dodge the fiscal disaster.

    Besides, I’ve known quite a few people who retired on the job and still showed signs of early dementia.

  • cubanbob

    As it becomes crystal clear that the current state pension benefits are unsustainable comes this study to encourage people to work longer in order to delay pension benefits.

  • Fat_Man

    Which is cause and which is effect? Do healthy people work more because they are healthy? or are they healthy because they work more?

    Do people in terminal decline stop working because of the prodromal of dementia or other illnesses, or does retirement aggravate the illness?

    • Nick Bidler

      As always, the question everything comes back to. I’d assume we’d have needed a more precise study of family incidences of dementia vs. years of work for this to really convince me; as it stands, the study just presents me with something I want to believe.

  • Seth

    Don’t forget, delayed retirement trickles down to decreased employment for young workers. And I agree that there is self-selection. I think many people retire out of necessity, not by choice. They may already be in poor physical or emotional health. Obviously, there is a benefit to remaining active, whether retired or working. Would love to see all these factors addressed in a study that does more than point to correlation.

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