Six Brain-Boosting Jobs To Fight Aging

Source: Yahoo
Six Jobs To Fight Aging

Have you been seeking the fountain of youth? You might find it at work...

By Heather Tunstall.

We all know it's important to stay healthy - but exercising your brain is just as important (if not more) than slimming your waistline. Your brain's health may not seem like a priority in your younger years, but an inactive mind could wreak havoc on your overall well-being as you age.
According to the World Health Organization, dementia is one of the biggest causes of dependency and disability among older people across the world. Its most common form is Alzheimer's Disease, contributing to 60 to 70 percent of cases. But you can take steps now to delay the onset of Alzheimer's later in life. By keeping the brain active, you may be able to build new connections and cells in the brain, which could protect you from mental decline, reports the Alzheimer's Association.
But how do you exercise your brain? Your job could be part of the answer, depending on what you do. A recent study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that the activities and tasks performed at work correlate to brain function during the latter part of life.
"We did find that people who are involved in jobs with higher levels of mental demands functioned better before retirement as well as after retirement," said Gwen Fisher, co-author of the study and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Colorado State University.
According to Fisher, the key is to do activities on the job that introduce novel, complex ideas, rather than doing the same thing over and over, and to incorporate other exercises that involve problem solving, planning, being creative, processing a lot of information, using and synthesizing data, and critical thinking.
That may sound like a tall order, but many careers have brain-boosting activities as an inherent part of their daily routine. The following "mental work demands" were linked to better memory before retirement and slower memory decline after retirement, according to the study:
  • Analyzing data or information
  • Developing objectives and strategies
  • Making decisions and solving problems
  • Evaluating information
  • Thinking creatively
Keep reading for six professions that have one or more of these characteristics, matched using the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), an online database of occupations sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Smart Job #1: Financial Analyst

Find Degree Programs Mental Work Demands:* Solving problems, analyzing data or information, making decisions
This role requires a head for numbers, so it may not be a surprise that financial analysts have a mentally demanding job. Just take a look at their responsibilities: They advise businesses and individuals on making investment decisions, analyze data, study business and economic trends, and generate written reports, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
"Financial analysts use many higher-order cognitive skills every day, especially data analysis, information processing, and problem solving, as they comb through financial data to evaluate investment decisions and assess financial positions," says Julia Erickson, career coach at myrightfitjob.com, a website focused on career counseling and job placement assistance.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Finance Program.
How to Prepare: Already imagining yourself in this role? To pursue a career as a financial analyst, you will need a bachelor's for most positions, according to the Department of Labor. Economics, statistics, accounting, finance, math, and engineering provide appropriate preparation. If you're going after an advanced position, you would often need a master's in business administration or finance, says the Department.

Smart Job #2: Technical Writer

Find Degree Programs Mental Work Demands:* Analyzing data or information
Writing is a form of communicating, and technical writing requires major mental power. On a daily basis, technical writers craft instruction manuals, journal articles, and other documents to communicate complex ideas in a clear way, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
As you can tell, "this role involves sustained attention to detail and is typically focused on verbal or language skills," says Paul D. Nussbaum, clinical neuropsychologist and author of Save Your Brain: 5 Things You Must Do to Keep Your Mind Young and Sharp. He explains that these are higher cognitive skills that promote the novel and complex, which help prevent mental decline as people age.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Communications Program.
How to Prepare: Ready to get writing? Employers generally prefer a bachelor's degree in English, journalism, or communications, according to the Department of Labor.

Smart Job #3: Marketing Manager

Find Degree Programs Mental Work Demands:* Analyzing data or information, thinking creatively, making decisions
Getting inside consumers minds is no easy feat, so you can see why a career as a marketing manager might keep you on your toes. The U.S. Department of Labor says marketing managers typically are involved in initiating market research studies, working with department heads and staff, planning promotional campaigns, negotiating contracts or developing pricing strategies for products, among many other tasks.
Nussbaum adds, "This profession involves creativity, the free flow of ideas, and strategic planning that ultimately results in a story or message being formed. The innovative and creative side of this profession is a complex function that requires higher cognitive processing."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Business Program.
How to Prepare: Does this sound like a career match for you? Know this: You will need a bachelor's degree to pursue most marketing manager positions, notes the Department of Labor. Specifically, courses in finance, business law, computer science, management, economics, statistics, and mathematics are advantageous.

Smart Job #4: Social Worker

Find Degree Programs Mental Work Demands:* Solving problems, making decisions
This is a job where you can help others while helping yourself. Problem-solving is a clear part of the social worker's job - two very brain-healthy activities, according to the study. Social workers help people cope with problems in their lives by developing plans to improve their clients' well-being, responding to crisis situations, and helping clients receive government benefits, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
"Social workers are essentially problem-solvers, working with their clients to understand and then solve the various life challenges people have," Erickson says. "Social workers process a lot of complex information, analyze their clients' needs, and then improvise by coming up with either a unique set of referrals for needed services or an approach to helping each individual client work through their problems."
Next step: Click to Find the Right Psychology Program.
How to Prepare: If this job sounds ideal, consider earning your bachelor's degree. According to the Department of Labor, social workers commonly need a bachelor's degree in social work, with some employers hiring candidates with degrees in related fields such as psychology or sociology. Some positions, such as those in health care or schools, frequently require a master's degree in social work.

Smart Job #5: Software Developer

Find Degree Programs Mental Work Demands:* Analyzing data or information, thinking creatively, solving problems
These tech-savvy professionals are "the creative minds behind computer programs," according to the U.S. Department of Labor. So it's no surprise that software developers' job duties are mentally demanding. For example, typical job activities involve analyzing users' needs, then designing and testing the applications or systems to meet those needs, notes the Department of Labor.
Formulas and software language are primary focuses for software developers, and the need for creativity can be an important factor, according to Nussbaum. In addition, "software developers use analysis, problem-solving, and creativity as they gather and assess user needs, design software to meet the needs, and resolve various problems throughout the design process," Erickson says.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.
How to Prepare: If you're drawn to this mix of technology and creativity, you would typically need a bachelor's degree in software engineering, computer science, or a related field, according to the Department. A math degree is also acceptable.

Smart Job #6: Graphic Designer

Find Degree Programs Mental Work Demands:* Thinking creatively, making decisions, solving problems
This job requires a lot of creative juice, so it's no surprise that it's mentally challenging. Graphic designers create visual communications and concepts to convey ideas that inspire, inform, or captivate an audience, notes the U.S. Department of Labor. To do that, they must meet with clients or staff members to work out the scope of a project, then develop the overall layout and design for items such as advertisements, brochures, magazines or corporate reports.
"Graphic design is mentally challenging and requires analytic ability for the designer to be able to envision how a consumer will perceive a visual design, and to use data to refine and improve design," Erickson says.
Creativity and innovation are a large part of graphic design, both of which are important to the novel and complex stimulation necessary for building brain resilience, according to Nussbaum.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Graphic Design Program.
How to Prepare: If this sounds up your alley, keep in mind that these designers usually need a bachelor's in graphic design or a related field, reports the Department of Labor. Got a bachelor's in something else? No prob - you could still pursue this job with a bachelor's in a different field as long as you have "technical training in graphic design," says the Department.

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