Drop in Episodic Memory Steeper With High Goal Disengagement

Cognitive decline worse for retired versus employed individuals with high goal disengagement, women

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THURSDAY, March 19, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Retired female individuals who are high in goal disengagement have steeper nine-year declines in episodic memory, according to a study published online March 16 in Psychology and Aging.

Jeremy M. Hamm, Ph.D., from North Dakota State University in Fargo, and colleagues used data for 732 participants from the Midlife in the United States Study to examine whether goal disengagement moderated the previously observed association between retirement and cognitive decline in propensity score-matched samples of older retirees and employees. The authors further examined whether gender moderated the association between retirement and cognitive decline.

The researchers found that nine-year declines in episodic memory were steeper for those who retired versus those who remained employed only if they were high in goal disengagement and were female.

"This study raises questions about how individual differences in motivation and gender may play a role in cognitive declines and points to the potential importance of continuing to engage in mentally stimulating activities in retirement," Hamm said in a statement. "This may be a significant challenge for people who have a tendency to let go of goals when they encounter initial obstacles and setbacks."

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