Does the type of work you do really matter?

An observational study such as this cannot establish a person’s job is a direct cause of cognitive issues later in life.

It can only be established that by observing job types and cognitive impairment in individuals at age 70, certain routine task intensity groups align with certain outcomes.

Vegard Skirbekk, PhD, professor at Columbia Aging Center, Columbia University and a senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, pointed to the difficulty in confirming a causal connection in this area.

“Numerous studies delve into this topic, but pinpointing causality proves challenging due to the self-selection of individuals into specific occupations,” Skirbekk told MNT.

“Thus, unraveling any relationship between work demands and cognition becomes complex,” he added.

People with jobs that are not mentally stimulating may be troubled by the findings of this study, but Rafnsson said there are other ways to preserve brain health and prevent cognitive decline.

“Our knowledge about how lifestyle factors, cognitively stimulating activities, social connections, etc., influence brain health has increased greatly over the past years and decades,” Rafnsson noted.

“People whose jobs are not mentally stimulating can still engage in a range of other useful activities — e.g., hobbies that are stimulating and fun; maintaining social relationships with friends and family — that can benefit their brains as well their overall health and well-being.”

— Snorri Bjorn Rafnsson, PhD, associate professor of aging and dementia

Of course, as Skirbekk pointed out, some people might “consider finding work that is cognitively challenging if that is an opportunity.”