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Memory decline associated with early retirement
Old 10-11-2010, 05:38 PM   #1
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Memory decline associated with early retirement

"The two economists call their paper “Mental Retirement,” and their argument has intrigued behavioral researchers. Data from the United States, England and 11 other European countries suggest that the earlier people retire, the more quickly their memories decline."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/12/sc...er=rss&emc=rss

What do you think?
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Old 10-11-2010, 05:42 PM   #2
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I'd answer but my mind keeps slipping.
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Old 10-11-2010, 05:45 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by JustCurious View Post
What do you think?
About what?

On a more serious note, I would agree with one of the criticisms from the article that you linked - there are a lot of differences between the different groups in addition to retirement ages. And I'm not sure, other than short term memory, what is tested by memorizing a list of words.
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Old 10-11-2010, 05:55 PM   #4
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Selection bias? The failing minds retired earlier because they were performing poorly on the job, or making less money in their own business, or were more stressed due to vague self-awareness if impending decline, etc. etc.

Or it's a bit true and we should all bear it in mind as we plan our post-FIRE routines.
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Old 10-11-2010, 05:55 PM   #5
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Darnit, they beat me to the obvious answer...
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Old 10-11-2010, 05:55 PM   #6
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I agree with Hugh Hendrie, the emeritus psychology professor at Indiana University School of Medicine who was quoted as saying,

Quote:
“It’s a nice approach, a very good study,” he said. But, he said, there are many differences among countries besides retirement ages. The correlations do not prove causation. They also, he added, do not prove that there is a clinical significance to the changes in scores on memory tests.
(emphasis mine) What were they thinking?
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Old 10-11-2010, 06:44 PM   #7
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I totally agree with W2R. I think there are a lot of cultural aspects to this, whether personal or relating to the geography in which you live. For example, I live in Japan right now, where I don't feel I could live an active, rewarding retirement. That's because there are few things that are near and dear to my heart for me to do, if I have to live in a tiny apartment. If I lived at my home in California, well, there are enough stimulating activities of interest for me there that I would probably never be bored.

I also believe that if you retire from compensated employment so that you can be a couch potato, then that is also what will happen to your mind. If you retire from compensated employment with an active plan, fully executed, which keeps your mind busy, then your mind probably won't go.

If you look around this forum, for example, you have people who have written books in retirement, people who volunteer and help others, people who take on second careers or other activities that are not compensated but are of value. I think the authors of the study need to look a little deeper, specifically at what the early retirees are doing with their time, and why. They may come to a more meaningful conclusion.

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Old 10-11-2010, 08:52 PM   #8
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From the article:
Quote:
The memory test looks at how well people can recall a list of 10 nouns immediately and 10 minutes after they heard them. A perfect score is 20, meaning all 10 were recalled each time. Those tests were chosen for the surveys because memory generally declines with age, and this decline is associated with diminished ability to think and reason.
Personally, I'd never take such a stupid test. I hate surveys and meaningless test come in a close second. I'd never have submitted to such a test either when working or retired.
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Old 10-11-2010, 08:54 PM   #9
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Darnit, they beat me to the obvious answer...
42?
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Old 10-11-2010, 10:27 PM   #10
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What was the question?

I actually feel smarter since FIRE because I have a variety of activities going on instead of mindless drudgew*rk (same old same old...). I do feel like my "to completion" attention span has decreased a little. I was used to long term thinking (lab experimentation, anticipating yearly funding cycles, program management) while drawing a paycheck.

But I've gotten over it.
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Old 10-11-2010, 10:34 PM   #11
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At a bare minimum you have to compare the people same countries at age 40. Without that you have nothing worth publishing
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Old 10-12-2010, 10:20 PM   #12
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I also believe that if you retire from compensated employment so that you can be a couch potato, then that is also what will happen to your mind. If you retire from compensated employment with an active plan, fully executed, which keeps your mind busy, then your mind probably won't go.

If you look around this forum, for example, you have people who have written books in retirement, people who volunteer and help others, people who take on second careers or other activities that are not compensated but are of value. I think the authors of the study need to look a little deeper, specifically at what the early retirees are doing with their time, and why. They may come to a more meaningful conclusion.

R
Exactly - I'm too busy to participate in surveys.
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Old 10-13-2010, 10:50 AM   #13
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This study is a poster child for the old maxim that "correlation does not equal causation."

Maybe some folks retired early *because* they were losing their memory.

Maybe retiring early leads some people to stop exercising their minds, thus losing mental sharpness. But in that case it would be the lack of mental stimulation, not the retiring early, that caused it -- and there are plenty of ways to stay mentally and physically sharp after retirement, no matter what some pro-"work until you drop dead" people try to claim.
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Old 10-13-2010, 11:07 AM   #14
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This study is a poster child for the old maxim that "correlation does not equal causation."

Maybe some folks retired early *because* they were losing their memory.

Maybe retiring early leads some people to stop exercising their minds, thus losing mental sharpness. But in that case it would be the lack of mental stimulation, not the retiring early, that caused it -- and there are plenty of ways to stay mentally and physically sharp after retirement, no matter what some pro-"work until you drop dead" people try to claim.

I agree but it doesn't even rise to that level. it compares contries, not individuals. Also it has no baselines of younger people
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Old 10-13-2010, 12:07 PM   #15
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(emphasis mine) What were they thinking?
They're probably just trying to cope with memory decline...

I think most of this non-problem is an American cultural overemphasis on hypervigilant self-assessments designed to alert us to the slightest amount of memory decline.

The way I remember it (no matter how much I try to forget it), I'm doing better in ER than I was during any of my 36-hour workdays.
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Old 10-13-2010, 02:20 PM   #16
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I've read a similar study on memory and bridge players. The study outcome indicated that those who play bridge into old age have better memories longer than those who don't play.

But, in other expert's opinions, the study was flawed because they couldn't prove whether people with good memories to begin with are drawn to bridge or whether the game of bridge helped them retain memory.
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Old 10-13-2010, 02:37 PM   #17
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But, in other expert's opinions, the study was flawed because they couldn't prove whether people with good memories to begin with are drawn to bridge or whether the game of bridge helped them retain memory.
"... and therein lies the rubber" - William Shakespeare
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Old 10-13-2010, 02:42 PM   #18
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wonder how many will get that
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Old 10-13-2010, 02:46 PM   #19
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wonder how many will get that
I would think we have many bridge playing Shakespeare readers on the site that have a warped sense of humor
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Old 10-13-2010, 03:00 PM   #20
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you're probably spot on
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