Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Another study showing why 65 is a reasonable retirement age

Speaking as someone closer to 65 than to 30, this is not surprising ...
Brain study says 30 is the new 60 | Good Morning Silicon Valley

... according to a new study by Professor Timothy Salthouse of the University of Virginia, functions like reasoning, spatial visualization and speed of thought peak around age 22 and start to decline around 27. Based on performance tests like those used by doctors to spot signs of dementia, Salthouse found that memory functions start to go at 37 on average, while abilities based on accumulated knowledge, such as performance on tests of vocabulary or general information, increased until the age of 60. After that, you’ll need to depend on the animal cunning that comes with perspective and experience...
This is normal degeneration of course, not the accelerated degeneration we call "dementia". As go the abs, so goes the brain.

The saving grace is that even as our middle-aged brains and biceps turn to pudding, we play the experience card for all its worth. Similarly personality quirks (and even some very serious brain disorders like schizophrenia) often improve with age. So while my 50 yo brain can't reason its way out of a paper bag, it can get a reasonable amount of work done.

The trick is the other side of 65 - even for "healthy" brains. That can be a prime age for a politician, but it ain't so hot for much other cognitive work.

Which is why I find talk of "working to 75" a bit disingenuous. Working at the grocery store maybe ...

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