Could these kind of jobs help prevent Alzheimer’s disease?

Researchers say working with other people, rather than with 'data or things' could be key to keeping cognitive functions

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 July, 2016, 10:45pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 July, 2016, 11:28am

New research unveiled at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference suggests people who have either more complex careers or busy social lives may be more resistant to Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia will cost the US US$236 billion in 2016, according to the Alzheimer's Association. The disease affects more than 5 million Americans.

Researchers from Wisconsin Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and Wisconsin Alzheimer's Institute presented findings at the conference in Toronto this weekend which found that workers whose jobs involved complex thinking or activities were better protected from cognitive decline.

"These new data add to a growing body of research that suggests more stimulating lifestyles, including more complex work environments with other people, are associated with better cognitive outcomes in later life," according to Maria C Carrillo, Alzheimer's Association chief science officer.

The researchers studied the brain scans of 284 people who were at risk of Alzheimer's and then compared the data with the persons' cognitive function and type of work.

They concluded that those whose careers involved working with other people, rather than with "data or things" were able to maintain their cognitive functions.

"These analyses underscore the importance of social engagement in the work setting for building resilience to Alzheimer's disease," Elizabeth Boots, research specialist at Wisconsin Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, says.

"Dementia is not an inevitable part of getting old," says Dr Doug Brown, director of research and development at Alzheimer's Society,.

"Increasingly, research is showing us that there are things we can do throughout our lives to reduce the likelihood of developing dementia.

"This research builds on what we already know about the importance of keeping our brains active to improve memory and thinking as we age, whether this is through having a complex job or hobbies and pastimes that challenge the brain and keep you connected to friends and family," he added.

Other pieces of research presented at the conference found that brain-training exercises could protect against dementia, that poor diet was related to declining brain activity and that people who had received higher education were more resilient to cognitive decline.

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.