Cognitive Functioning, Aging, and Work: A Review and Recommendations for Research and Practice
There is a larger proportion and number of older adults in the labor force than ever before. Furthermore, older adults in the workforce are working until later ages. Although a great deal of research has examined physical health and well-being of working older adults, less research has focused on cognitive functioning. The purpose of this article is to provide a broad contemporary and multidisciplinary review of the intersection between cognitive functioning, aging, and work as a follow-up to a paper previously written by Fisher et al. (2014). We begin by providing definitions and background about cognitive functioning and how it changes over the life span. Next we discuss theories relevant to the intersection of cognitive functioning and work, including the use-it-or-lose-it hypothesis, the cognitive reserve hypothesis, hypotheses regarding environmental influences on intellectual functioning, and the job-demands-resources model. Then we summarize recent research about the effects of work on cognitive functioning, as well as ways that cognitive functioning may influence work motivation, learning, development, training, and safety. We conclude by emphasizing the importance of person-environment fit, suggesting avenues for future research, and discussing practical implications for the field of occupational health psychology.