Is Working Longer the Key to Longevity?

My wife was particularly smitten with the 89 year old ex-fashion model who worked in the upscale clothing boutique in an alley of Capri, Italy. “I must see if Nadia is still working at the shop,” my wife muttered within minutes of landing on the tiny sun-filled island.

I wasn’t sure what it was that my wife was so impressed with. Could it be Nadia’s sense of fashion at her age? Could it be that she still looked like she could walk the runaway with her long lanky body? Or could it be that she was still working 8 hour shifts and dragging linen jackets out to drape on tourists?

Why do people work after the age of retirement? Don’t they know they have earned the right to watch TV all day, eat whatever they fancy, sleep until noon?  I am often filled with sadness when I see an 80 year old working as a cashier at a fast food restaurant. I wonder what has happened in their life that they HAVE to work doing this kind of job.  But there are several new studies that link cognitive fitness with continued employment.

“For each additional year of work, the risk of getting dementia is reduced by 3.2%,” said Carole Dufouil, a scientist at INSERM, the French government’s health research agency. Researchers used these records on more than 429,000 workers, most of whom were shopkeepers or craftsmen such as bakers and woodworkers. They were 74 years old on average and had been retired for an average of 12 years. “Nearly 3% had developed dementia but the risk of this was lower for each year of age at retirement. Someone who retired at 65 had about a 15% lower risk of developing dementia compared to someone retiring at 60, after other factors that affect those odds were taken into account,” Dufouil said. (USA Today 7/15/13)

Is this why we see Barbara Walters still doing interviews in her 80’s and looking good while doing it?  I think the days of retiring when you are 65 years old and going fishing all day are done. Long life and wellbeing is about stimulation and activity.

And yes, as we approached that boutique in Italy, the first thing we saw was this stunning silhouette of a woman, it was Nadia at work.

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