By Tony Aiello

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — New research has found a link between early retirement and a decline in memory and brain function.

The basis of the study was a simple memory test, given in 13 countries to people 50 and older.

The researchers found that in countries where people retire later, like the U.S. and Denmark, people scored much better on the memory test compared to countries where people retire early, like France, Austria and Italy.

“It’s important to keep working as long as you can, doing something you love to do,” neurologist Dr. Gavatri Devi said.

Dr. Devi often tells patients at her East Side memory and aging center that early retirement can lead to memory and brain power decline.

“Work stimulates in so many ways. It’s not just that it helps us organize better – it allows us to socialize, it forces us to be cognitively more present,” Dr. Devi said.

At Zitomer Pharmacy on Madison Avenue, Kim Tibbs is in her 70s – and still on the job.

“I feel like when I work, I’m staying young,” she said.

Tibbs is joined at the pharmacy by 86-year-old Luba Gelbart, who said work keeps her mentally sharp.

“I didn’t lose anything there in my mind, I don’t think so,” Gelbart said. “I can still talk in different languages, I can still take care of customers.”

The study could have many people thinking that dream of early retirement should be put on hold – for the sake of their brains.

Tony Aiello