Human beings over the age of forty can now stop blaming themselves for losing focus and forgetting things; evidently, it’s really these people’s jobs that are to blame for their declines. A study by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research indicates that although working around thirty 30 hours each week benefits the cognitive functions of individuals over the age of forty, working in excess of this amount of time causes performance to decline significantly. What’s more, people who worked approximately fifty-five hours per week experienced the most substantial decline in cognitive function (more than individuals without jobs and individuals who are retired).
More specifically, the study included 3500 female and 3000 male participants who were forty years of age or older; the participants performed cognitive function tests while their performances were observed. A test known as the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey was utilized to gauge how well they read words aloud, how well they matched letters and numbers, and how well they could recall lists of numbers. Professor Colin McKenzie of the University of Melbourne devised the tests, and he has said that ‘knowing’ and ‘thinking’ were his focuses; reading tests were the knowing element, and thinking tests were the memory, executive, and abstract reasoning elements.
Brain puzzles like crosswords and Sudoku have been proven to preserve brain capacity in older individuals, but over-stimulation has been proven to negatively impact brain capacity. Professor McKenzie has told The Times in Britain that several countries intend to raise the age of retirement, which would force people to work longer in life; so, depending on how many hours older individuals are required to work in order to sustain a living, they could experience enhanced brain activity or diminished brain activity.
Furthermore, McKenzie argues that part-time work would likely be most beneficial for preserving brain function in human beings who are over the age of forty. Yet, the Hilda test does not reveal how the kind of work impacts the effects of the work, as Professor McKenzie alludes to: “It’s very difficult to identify the causal effects of the type of work on cognitive functions. People may be selected into certain occupations according to their cognitive abilities.”
As more and more human beings are forced to work for more and more years moving forward, the impact on the health of the population as a whole will need to be closely monitored; it will become imperative to maximize rest during vacations and holidays, and to spend spare time in general in positive, productive, and healthy ways. Yet, Professor McKenzie points out that, “Working full time—over 40 hours a week—is still better than no work in terms of maintaining cognitive function, but it is not maximizing the potential effects of work.” As more governments plan to require citizens to work longer in life (until the age of sixty-seven in some cases!), all human beings will genuinely need to be capable of living in a brave new world.
*This content was inspired by an amazing article that can be found here.