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Mentally demanding jobs keep people smart past retirement

Tuesday - 3/25/2014, 1:14pm  ET

WASHINGTON -- A mentally demanding job can be stressful. But it could keep people's minds sharp even after they retire.

A University of Michigan Health and Retirement study followed people 51 to 61-years-old for nearly two decades testing their memories and mental acuity every two years.

The conclusion: compared to people working jobs with fewer mental demands, people with mentally demanding jobs are more likely to have better memories in general and tend to take longer to begin losing their memories later in life.

For the purpose of the study, jobs considered to have higher mental demands involve decision making, problem solving, data analysis, strategy and objective development and creative thinking.

Working more mentally demanding jobs may not be an insurance policy against memory decline.

Researchers say it's possible people with higher levels of mental functioning may just choose more mentally demanding jobs. The study did adjust for education and income.

The findings are published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

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