Workers with demanding jobs dealing with people or complex data are more likely to stay mentally sharp, scientists claim.
Better memories and thinking ability belong to those in close contact with others such as social workers and lawyers or architects and graphic designers who work with drawings and data.
A team at Edinburgh University found jobs involving teaching or management skills led to better brain function scores at the age of 70.
People were tested for memory, mental and processing speed and general thinking ability.
They judged how a person’s occupation had an impact on the results.
Co-author of the study Dr Alan Gow said: “These results suggest that more stimulating work environments may help people retain their thinking skills.”
Dr Simon Ridley of Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “Keeping the brain active throughout life could be helpful and different types of work may play a role.”
The study is published in the Journal of Neurology.