The Unexamined Life

How Financial Struggles Affect Aging

Researchers have found a relationship between economic struggles for more than four years and premature aging in the late middle-aged population. Center for Healthy Aging at the University of Copenhagen and the Department of Public Health considered those with 60 percent income lesser than national average to be on the poverty line, for the purpose of the study. 

Over an extended period of 22 years from 1987 to 2008, as many as 5,575 late middle-aged adults were analyzed. From them, 18 percent had suffered from relative poverty during the time period.

“Early ageing also means more treatment at an earlier age, and it is a burden both to the individual and the society. With our results, we show that poor finances are a strong indicator of early ageing – this knowledge can be used to prevent the problems,” Rile Lund, co-author and professor at the university, said in the press release.

The study titled “Economic hardship over twenty-two consecutive years of adult life and markers of early ageing: physical capability, cognitive function and inflammation” was published in the European Journal of Ageing this July. 

What the Study Found

The parameters to determine if a person is aging is based on cognitive and physical capabilities that manifest in strength and mental capacity. The grip strength of the participants were compared to adults who had not faced economic hardship for four or more years in their adult life. The grip strength was found to be lower by 1.2 kilos among those people with 60 percent lower income. 

This low income group was also tested for how many times they could get up and sit down on a chair within 30 seconds. Comparatively, they could sit two times lesser. The ability to jump high was also tested. To check their cognitive strength, they were given tests where they had to memorize sequences. 

Among the medical markers, inflammation, a marker for old age and poor health, was also higher in people with economic instability. "There is a significant difference between the test results. People who have been below the relative poverty threshold for four or more years in their adult life perform significantly worse than those who have never been below the threshold," Lund added.

On the contrary, one study mentioned by Medical News Today stated that a person's health is dependent upon the perception of their economic status rather than the amount of money in the bank. 

elderly People with economic hardships for four or more years in their adult life age faster than well off counterparts. Photo Courtesy of Pixabay