If you are at age 40+ and starting to think you’re no longer fully able to focus and remember facts, you could point the finger at your work as the contributing factor.
A recent research study conducted by experts at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research produced interesting findings. Namely, while working up to 30 hours per week is good for the cognitive function in the fourth decade of life, any additional overload causes one’s performance to decline.
Actually, people who worked 55 hours a week or more had the greatest cognitive decline than those who were without a job, retired or didn’t work at all.
The research included 3500 female and 3000 male subjects at age 40+. While the subjects did cognitive function tests their work performance was being monitored.
The test known as Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey, measured how able they were to read words aloud, match letters and numbers in speed trials and recite lists of numbers. The author of this test, Professor Colin McKenzie of the University of Melbourne, states that both ‘knowing’ and ‘thinking’ were significant indicators. Reading tests is the ‘knowing’ element of ability, whilst ‘thinking’ comprises memory, executive, and abstract reasoning.
While certain degree of intellectual stimulation is believed to benefit the retaining of cognitive function in later age, with brain puzzles such as crosswords and Sudoku who preserve brain capacity in older persons, excessive stimulation has the opposite effect.
Professor McKenzie said for the British newspaper The Times that many countries are aiming to raise the retirement age, forcing people to work longer as they will be unable to claim benefits until later age. His opinion is that the amount of work may have significant important relevance on this.