Can hard, continuous, repetitive work reduce dementia?

Repetitive grinding can not just boost careers but also protect employee cognition and prevent dementia.
By: | April 22, 2024

Grinding at the job could be the way to not just boost careers but also protect employee cognition and prevent dementia.

This is part of the results found by a new study conducted by the Oslo University Hospital in Norway, which found that having a routine job with little mental stimulation from age 30-60, was linked to a 66% higher risk of mild cognitive impairment and a 37% greater risk of dementia after the age of 70, according to the study, when compared with having a job with high cognitive and interpersonal demands.

“Our results show the value of having an occupation that requires more complex thinking as a way to maintain memory and thinking in old age,” said Dr. Trine Edwin, a researcher at Oslo University Hospital and lead researcher of the study. “The workplace is really important in promoting cognitive health.”

The study, published in Neurology, analysed health and occupational data on 7,000 Norwegians who were followed from their 30s until their retirement in the 60s.

To do the analysis, Dr. Edwin and her team categorised the cognitive demands of 305 occupations in Norway, such as factory work and bookkeeping, and studied employees who stayed in jobs with the same degree of complexity during their working lives, which allowed researchers to study the impact of a job type over time, Dr. Edwin said.

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The study researchers recommended that people at risk for Alzheimer’s would be well served by taking advantage of professional advancement opportunities, learning new job tasks, and refining their skills at work over some time.

Other methods to adopting a brain-healthy lifestyle include eating a Mediterranean-style diet, limiting alcohol, and stopping smoking, staying on top of vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, getting adequate sleep and managing stress could help people reduce the risks of cognitive decline.