HARRISONBURG, Va. -- If you don't use it, you'll lose it. That's what a new study says about your brain.
The study shows every year you delay retirement, your chances of getting Alzheimer's Disease decrease by 3%.
Nancy Owens looks forward to retiring, but she says the new study is something to consider now.
"If I had my choices, at this point, from the research, I'd stay in the workforce for a period of time until I felt like I really was too tired to work anymore," said Owens.
Robin Hawks is an assistant professor at Blue Ridge Community College. She agrees with the study and is introducing a new program to help folks over the age of 50 go back to college to get new jobs.
"In what we know from research is you can do crossword puzzles and things like that and those are nice, but they don't really help you cognitively because they're pulling on old knowledge. What you need to preserve your brain is to have new experiences, learn new things," said Hawks.
Hawks says this new program at BRCC will help older folks keep their brains stimulated to prevent dementia.
But if you still want to retire, Owens says there are plenty of other activities older people do to keep their brains healthy.
"Traveling, volunteering, staying in touch with their families, it's incredible some of the things they do," said Owens. "They always tell me they're more busy now than they were when they were working."
Owens is also the director of JMU's Lifelong Learning Institute, a program that offers classes and activities for people after retirement.
Owens and Hawks say everyone should consider these types of programs, whether it's going back to school or finding a new job, after the age of 50 to stay healthy and live a longer life.
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