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      Effects of Preretirement Work Complexity and Postretirement Leisure Activity on Cognitive Aging

      , ,
      The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
      Oxford University Press (OUP)

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          Abstract

          <div class="section"> <a class="named-anchor" id="d6345056e207"> <!-- named anchor --> </a> <h5 class="section-title" id="d6345056e208">Objectives:</h5> <p id="d6345056e210">We examined the influence of postretirement leisure activity on longitudinal associations between work complexity in main lifetime occupation and trajectories of cognitive change before and after retirement. </p> </div><div class="section"> <a class="named-anchor" id="d6345056e212"> <!-- named anchor --> </a> <h5 class="section-title" id="d6345056e213">Methods:</h5> <p id="d6345056e215">Information on complexity of work with data, people, and things, leisure activity participation in older adulthood, and four cognitive factors (verbal, spatial, memory, and speed) was available from 421 individuals in the longitudinal Swedish Adoption/Twin Study of Aging. Participants were followed for an average of 14.2 years ( <i>SD</i> = 7.1 years) and up to 23 years across eight cognitive assessments. Most of the sample (88.6%) completed at least three cognitive assessments. </p> </div><div class="section"> <a class="named-anchor" id="d6345056e220"> <!-- named anchor --> </a> <h5 class="section-title" id="d6345056e221">Results:</h5> <p id="d6345056e223">Results of growth curve analyses indicated that higher complexity of work with people significantly attenuated cognitive aging in verbal skills, memory, and speed of processing controlling for age, sex, and education. When leisure activity was added, greater cognitive and physical leisure activity was associated with reduced cognitive aging in verbal skills, speed of processing, and memory (for cognitive activity only). </p> </div><div class="section"> <a class="named-anchor" id="d6345056e225"> <!-- named anchor --> </a> <h5 class="section-title" id="d6345056e226">Discussion:</h5> <p id="d6345056e228">Engagement in cognitive or physical leisure activities in older adulthood may compensate for cognitive disadvantage potentially imposed by working in occupations that offer fewer cognitive challenges. These results may provide a platform to encourage leisure activity participation in those retiring from less complex occupations. </p> </div>

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          Most cited references16

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          Mental Exercise and Mental Aging: Evaluating the Validity of the "Use It or Lose It" Hypothesis.

          It is widely believed that keeping mentally active will prevent age-related mental decline. The primary prediction of this mental-exercise hypothesis is that the rate of age-related decline in measures of cognitive functioning will be less pronounced for people who are more mentally active, or, equivalently, that the cognitive differences among people who vary in level of mental activity will be greater with increased age. Although many training studies, and comparisons involving experts, people in specific occupations, and people whose mental activity levels are determined by their self-reports, have found a positive relation between level of activity and level of cognitive functioning, very few studies have found an interactive effect of age and mental activity on measures of cognitive functioning. Despite the current lack of empirical evidence for the idea that the rate of mental aging is moderated by amount of mental activity, there may be personal benefits to assuming that the mental-exercise hypothesis is true.
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            Psychological perspectives on the changing nature of retirement.

            The concept and the process of retirement are rapidly evolving. As a result, psychologists are in a unique position to understand and explain the dynamics behind the changing face of retirement. We begin this article with a brief overview of the history of retirement and then note the various definitions used when studying retirement. We then propose that taking a temporal view of studying retirement would be most advantageous for psychologists. Psychological conceptualizations of retirement are then discussed, and we link these conceptualizations to studying the changing nature of retirement. Finally, we conclude with some suggestions for future research in the area of retirement that would be particularly relevant for psychologists to consider.
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              Mental work demands, retirement, and longitudinal trajectories of cognitive functioning.

              Age-related changes in cognitive abilities are well-documented, and a very important indicator of health, functioning, and decline in later life. However, less is known about the course of cognitive functioning before and after retirement and specifically whether job characteristics during one's time of employment (i.e., higher vs. lower levels of mental work demands) moderate how cognition changes both before and after the transition to retirement. We used data from n = 4,182 (50% women) individuals in the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative panel study in the United States, across an 18 year time span (1992-2010). Data were linked to the O*NET occupation codes to gather information about mental job demands to examine whether job characteristics during one's time of employment moderates level and rate of change in cognitive functioning (episodic memory and mental status) both before and after retirement. Results indicated that working in an occupation characterized by higher levels of mental demands was associated with higher levels of cognitive functioning before retirement, and a slower rate of cognitive decline after retirement. We controlled for a number of important covariates, including socioeconomic (education and income), demographic, and health variables. Our discussion focuses on pathways through which job characteristics may be associated with the course of cognitive functioning in relation to the important transition of retirement. Implications for job design as well as retirement are offered.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
                GERONB
                Oxford University Press (OUP)
                1079-5014
                1758-5368
                August 12 2016
                September 2016
                September 2016
                May 14 2015
                : 71
                : 5
                : 849-856
                Article
                10.1093/geronb/gbv026
                4982383
                25975289
                9fa80d91-e9ab-4e4b-8a52-0e9c05fc8340
                © 2015
                History

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