(CNN) — Having a paying job might shield women from memory loss decades later, according to a new study.

That’s because paid work may offer mental stimulation, financial benefits and social connections that could limit declines in memory as women age, said Elizabeth Rose Mayeda, who led the research as an assistant professor of epidemiology at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health.

With women making up nearly two-thirds of all Americans living with Alzheimer’s, the research suggests that preventing the disease may require more than drugs or medical interventions.

“Policies that promote equal pay for equal work, paid family leave and affordable child care” could one day be part of the conversation about women’s dementia in old age, said Mayeda, who presented her findings Tuesday

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