(HealthDay News) — Having a challenging job may help people live longer after developing frontotemporal dementia, according to a small study published online April 22 in Neurology.
Researchers analyzed the medical charts of 34 people diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. The patients survived an average of seven years after diagnosis. However, those who had more challenging jobs survived an average of 9.6 years, compared with six years for those with less challenging jobs.
The researchers also looked at people with Alzheimer’s disease. In that group, they found that having a more challenging job was not associated with longer survival. Education level did not affect survival time in patients with either disease.
“This study suggests that having a higher occupational level protects the brain from some of the effects of this disease, allowing people to live longer after developing the disease,” study author Lauren Massimo, PhD, CRNP, of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, said in a journal news release. The results also support the “cognitive reserve” theory that factors such as more demanding jobs and greater mental activity may promote connections in the brain that provide some protection against dementia.