Internet use in retirement boosts cognitive function – new research

Newswise – Using the internet during your retirement years can boost your cognitive function, new study finds.

Researchers at Lancaster University Management School, Norwegian University Science and Technology, and Trinity College Dublin examined the cognitive functions of more than 2,000 retirees across Europe and found that post-retirement internet use is associated with significantly higher test scores.

The study, published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, uses data from the Survey on Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) which collects information on the health, work history and socio-economic status of older people.

Focusing on a sample of 2,105 elderly people from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Israel, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland who are retired Since 2004, researchers have looked at the cognitive function of retirees in 2013 and 2015 on a word recall test, where individuals were asked to recall a list of 10 words immediately, and then again five minutes later.

The results revealed that, on average, people who used the Internet after retirement were able to remember an additional 1.22 words in the recall test compared to non-Internet users. However, retirees who used the Internet were also more likely to be male, younger, more educated and less retired. They also seem healthier, even though they drink and smoke more *.

Dr Vincent O’Sullivan, co-author of Lancaster University Management School, said: “Our results show that post-retirement internet use results in a marked reduction in the rate of cognitive decline.

“Interestingly, this protective effect was found to be strongest in women, retired women who regularly surf the Internet were able to remember 2.37 more words than women who did not log on to the Internet. Internet. The results were also consistent among men, with retired internet users being able to remember 0.94 more words than men with similar characteristics who did not use the internet.

“We also found that retirees who used computers in their work before retirement were more likely to continue using computers after retirement, and therefore had better cognitive function.”

The researchers compared the cognitive function of retirees who worked in jobs where computers were common to retirees who worked in jobs where computers were not used often. For example, among teachers, computers became common in the workplace much later than in industries such as financial services. Their results found that people who were exposed to computers before retirement were more likely to continue using them after retirement.

Among the overall results, the researchers also found a marked difference in internet use patterns between European countries, with no more than 12% of retirees using the internet in Italy, compared to over 60% in Denmark.

“Research has shown that retirement from the workforce is a critical time for cognitive function, which declines with age and may be a predictor of a range of key health outcomes in older adults,” said co-author Likun Mao, former doctoral student at Lancaster but now at Trinity College Dublin. “While there is a widespread belief that computer use improves cognitive function in older adults – such as memory, attention, spatial skills, and problem solving – previous studies have given rise to to mixed evidence.

“We were able to discern that pre-retirement computer use does not directly influence post-retirement cognitive decline, and we made sure that our results refer only to after retirement internet use.

Professor Colin Green, Norwegian University Science and Technology, added: Internet use only, after retirement.

“This sets it apart from other studies and raises the interesting question of what exactly is Internet use, which causes this positive effect on cognitive function. Interacting with others online, searching for information in order to attend social events or simple tasks like online shopping can all make life easier for retirees, but we don’t know yet which of these tasks, if any. , actually goes so far as to improve cognitive performance. . “


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