WE all have days when we’d rather sit in front of the couch than head into work.

Not only do they pay the bills, but experts have now warned that your job could also predict your risk of dementia.

Different jobs suit different people, but experts have also found your profession could increase your risk of dementia

It’s estimated that around 676,000 people in England have the condition, which is a syndrome associated with the decline of brain function.

Now medics have warned that those in low-paid jobs are at risk of developing the illness.

In the UK, some of the worst-paid jobs include cleaners, catering assistants and even teaching assistants – with average salaries under £12,000.

Experts at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health found that sustained low wages are associated with significantly faster memory decline.

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Such jobs have previously been associated with depression, obesity and hypertension – which are also factors in a decline in brain health, the experts said.

The minimum wage for Brits is £9.50 per hour and in the US the lowest rate is $7.25-per-hour – which equates to around £6.15.

Writing in the American Journal of Epidemiology, doctors said one simple solution to the issue would be to raise wages to $15-per-hour (£12.30).

Senior author Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School and the Columbia Butler Aging Center said a change in policy would be beneficial for cognitive health.


“Future work should rigorously examine the number of dementia cases and excess years of cognitive aging that could be prevented under different hypothetical scenarios that would increase the minimum hourly wage,” they added.

Researchers looked at data on over 2,879 people born between 1936 and 1941.

They looked at those who specifically had a history of low wages and compared them to those who never earned a small pay cheque.

The experts also looked at those who earned low wages, or always earned low wages based on wages earned from 1992 to 2004.

Then they examined the relationship with memory decline over the next 12 years from 2004-2016.

What are the main symptoms of dementia?

Dementia symptoms vary depending on the cause. But common signs and symptoms include:

Cognitive changes

memory loss, which is usually noticed by a spouse or someone else
confusion and disorientation, such as not knowing the place or time

Difficulty:

communicating or finding words
following a conversation
with visual and spatial abilities, such as getting lost while driving
reasoning or problem-solving
handling complex tasks
planning and organising
with coordination and motor functions

Psychological changes

personality changes
depression
anxiety
inappropriate behaviour
paranoia
agitation
hallucinations

The symptoms specific to Alzheimer’s disease include:

memory problems, such as regularly forgetting recent events, names and faces
asking questions repetitively
increasing difficulties with tasks and activities that require organisation and planning
becoming confused in unfamiliar environments
difficulty finding the right words
difficulty with numbers and/or handling money in shops
becoming more withdrawn or anxious

Comparing those with low wages to those who have always earned a reasonable salary, experts said the lowest paid experienced significantly faster memory decline in older age.

They had approximately one excess year of cognitive aging per a 10-year period.

Meaning the level of cognitive aging experienced over a 10-year period by low-wage earners would be the same as those who never earned low wages experienced in 11 years.

It was previously reported that there are a variety of key factors that increase your risk of dementia.

Researchers looked at participants’ performance on memory and attention tests, and how this was impacted by eight modifiable risk factors for the syndrome.

These were:

Low education (less than a high school diploma)Hearing lossTraumatic brain injuryAlcohol or substance abuseHigh blood pressure (hypertension)Smoking (currently or in the past four years)DiabetesDepression

Each factor led to a decrease in cognitive performance by as much as three years of ageing, with each additional factor contributing the same amount of decline. 

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For example, having three risk factors could lead to a decrease in cognitive performance equivalent to as much as nine years of ageing. 

The effects of the risk factors increased with age, as did the number of risk factors people had.

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