Researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry in London found that later retirement significantly delayed the onset of the disease in 1,320 clinical data sets they reviewed.
Although a higher level of education is known to decrease the overall risk of Alzheimer’s, it was not found to delay the threshold for dementia.
‘A pressing issue in Alzheimer’s research is understanding the mechanism behind the highly reproducible effects of education in reducing risk of the disease and as an extension of this whether this mechanism continues into later life,’ the authors said.
‘Our data suggests a continuing positive effect of cognitive activities into later life.
‘Extended employment may keep an individual participating in intellectually stimulating activities, preventing the decrease of synaptic complexity and neuronal reverse, so keeping their cognitive assets above the threshold for dementia for longer.’
These findings have implications for treatment of AD, ‘especially as an important therapeutic strategy is to delay the disease onset’, the authors added.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and currently affects around 417,000 people in the UK. Forecasters predict these figures will double within a generation.
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