Study Finds Paying Jobs Could Reduce Women's Risk of Dementia

Being a salaried employee pays off in more ways than one.

According to a 2019 report by the Alzheimer's Association, almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer's are women. Given how devastating the disease can be and how difficult it is to treat, an increasing amount of scientific research has focused on how to prevent the onset of dementia. Now, new findings presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Los Angeles have revealed that, for women, having a paying job may lower the risk of memory loss later on in life.

Elizabeth Rose Mayeda, an assistant professor of epidemiology at UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health, and her team analyzed the family and employment history of more than 6,000 women over the age of 50 and compared them to the cognitive assessments these women underwent from 1995 to 2016. While being a mother didn't seem to significantly impact the subjects' ability to recall lists of words from memory, married stay-at-home moms experienced cognitive decline 61 percent faster than working mothers over the course of a decade. With single moms, the difference was even more pronounced, as their rate of memory loss was 83 percent faster if they didn't have paid jobs.

"Women who engaged in the paid labor force for at least a significant time period appeared to have slower rates of memory decline in later age," Mayeda told CNN. "It didn't mean that you had to work continuously, for example, in your 20s, 30s, and 40s."

Mayeda's team's findings suggest that the mental stimulation, financial benefits, and social connections that a paying job offers could help combat memory loss, which is a significant discovery given that more and more women are joining the workforce.

"Roles for women in the workforce and family have really changed dramatically over the years," Mayeda said. "So it's important that we continue to study the relevance of those changes and how they could be impacting the risk for women related to Alzheimer's disease."

And for more recent research on dementia prevention, read Doing These 5 Things Can Lower Your Alzheimer's Risk by 60 Percent.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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