A new study in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry suggests that carrying on working into old age, rather than occupation or education, can help protect against dementia.
The study looked at nearly 400 men who developed Alzheimer's disease. It assessed the time they spent in full-time education, the type of work they did and the point at which they retired.
The researchers detected no link between the onset of dementia and education or occupation. But they found that every extra year at work was associated with a six week delay in Alzheimer's. They say this points to the value of keeping the brain active by working.
They also acknowledge that the nature of retirement is changing, and for some people it may be as intellectually stimulating as working. The Alzheimer's Research Trust, which funded the study, says more people than ever retire later in life to avert financial hardship, but there may be a silver lining: lower dementia risk. However it says much more research is needed in order to understand how to delay or prevent dementia.