Decline in Cognitive Functioning After Retirement Varies by Race, Sex

Study finds declines steeper for White versus Black retirees and for men versus and women
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WEDNESDAY, July 19, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Cognitive functioning appears to decline at an accelerated rate immediately after retirement, and the rate is more pronounced in White men, according to a study published online July 19 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Ross Andel, Ph.D., from Arizona State University in Phoenix, and colleagues examined trajectories of cognitive change before and after retirement in 2,226 Black and White adults, with a mean of 7.1 years of follow-up.

The researchers found that cognitive functioning was stable before retirement, followed by a significant decline after retirement, with the decline particularly pronounced in White participants versus Black participants. Furthermore, the decline was twice as large in men versus women. Declines were highest among White men and lowest in Black women. Significant postretirement cognitive decline was also seen among participants who attended college. Better cognitive function at retirement was seen with greater work complexity and higher income, but neither was significantly related to cognitive change after retirement.

"The results seem to point to the possibility that better job opportunities could lead to greater cognitive losses after retirement, whereas exposure to lifelong structural inequalities may actually ease transition to retirement with respect to cognitive aging," Andel said in a statement.

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