Newswise — Using the internet throughout your retirement years can enhance your cognitive function, a new examine has discovered. 

Researchers from Lancaster University Management School, the Norwegian University Science and Technology and Trinity College Dublin examined the cognitive function of greater than 2,000 retired folks from throughout Europe, and located that post-retirement internet utilization is related to considerably larger scores on assessments. 

The examine, revealed in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, makes use of knowledge drawn from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) that collects details about the well being, employment historical past and socio-economic standing of older folks. 

Focusing on a pattern of two,105 older folks from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Israel, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland who’ve been retired since 2004, researchers examined retirees’ cognitive function in each 2013 and 2015. They particularly centered on a phrase recall take a look at, the place people had been requested to recall a listing of 10 phrases instantly, after which once more 5 minutes later.

Results discovered that, on common, individuals who used the internet after they retired had been capable of recall 1.22 additional phrases in the recall take a look at in comparison with non-internet customers. However, retirees who used the internet had been additionally extra prone to be male, youthful, higher educated, and have been retired for a shorter interval. They additionally look like in higher well being – regardless that they drink and smoke extra*.

Dr Vincent O’Sullivan, a co-author from Lancaster University Management School stated: “Our results reveal that using the internet, post-retirement, leads to a marked reduction in the rate of cognitive decline.

“Interestingly, this protective effect was found to be most significant amongst women, with female retirees who regularly surfed the internet able to recall 2.37 more words compared to women who didn’t go online. The results were also consistent among men, with retired internet users able to recall 0.94 more words than men with similar characteristics who didn’t use the internet.

“We also found that retirees who used computers in their jobs before retirement were more likely to keep using computers once they retired, and hence had better cognitive function.”

Researchers in contrast the cognitive function of retirees who used to work in jobs the place computer systems had been commonplace to retirees who labored in jobs the place computer systems weren’t typically used. For instance, amongst lecturers, computer systems grew to become frequent in the office a lot later than sectors equivalent to monetary providers. Their outcomes revealed that folks with pre-retirement publicity to computer systems had been extra prone to proceed to make use of them as soon as they retired.

Among the general outcomes, the researchers additionally discovered a stark distinction in the patterns of internet utilization between European nations, with not more than 12% of retirees utilizing the internet in Italy, in comparison with over 60% in Denmark. 

“Research has shown that retirement from the workforce is a critical period for cognitive function, which declines with age and can be a predictor for a range of key health outcomes among older people,” stated co-author Likun Mao, previously a PhD scholar at Lancaster however now at Trinity College Dublin. “Although there is a widespread belief that computer usage improves older people’s cognitive function – such as memory, attention, spatial abilities and problem solving – there has been mixed evidence from previous studies. 

“We were able to discern that pre-retirement computer usage does not directly influence post-retirement cognitive decline, and we ensured our results referred only to post-retirement internet usage.” 

Professor Colin Green, of the Norwegian University Science and Technology, added: “Within our study we estimated statistical models which controlled for individuals’ ages, education levels, occupational skills and years since retirement, so we are confident that our results are robust and relate only to the use of the internet, post retirement.

“This sets it apart from other studies and raises the interesting question of what it is about internet use exactly, that drives this positive effect on cognitive function. Interacting with others online, finding out information in order to attend social activities or simple tasks like shopping online can all make life easier for retirees, but we are yet to understand which, if any, of these tasks actually go as far as improving cognitive performance.”


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