Poor people are aging faster than the rich

Scientists at University College London observed the health of 5000 Britons over 52 years of age, who had different incomes. They found that people with low levels of financial well-being deteriorate their physical health and cognitive abilities much more quickly, as well as their social connections to the wealthy. In the poor with age, this is reflected in slower walking speeds, impaired vision, and a smaller environment of loved ones, reports Business Insider. They are also more susceptible to the development of chronic diseases.

The authors selected 5000 UK residents over 52 years of age with different levels of wealth for their study. They divided them into four groups: the richest group included those whose fortune was about $834,000 on average, the wealthiest group included people whose accounts averaged $310,263, the third group included about $180,000, and the poorest group included people whose fortune was about $32,000.

Scientists have chosen the state of accounts as the best indicator of the financial situation of older people, because education, employment, or income are usually the main indicators of the financial situation of young and middle-aged people.

Eight years later, people in the latter group began to experience rapid deterioration in their physical health, cognitive abilities, emotional state, and social skills. Their memory and speech functions decreased faster, walking speed slowed down, physical weakness developed, and vision and hearing disorders appeared. For example, gait slowing was observed by 38% more frequently among people with low financial wealth than among the richest group. And vision problems were reported by 16% of poor people, while in the group of the affluent they were only 10%. 

Scientists also noted that not wealthy people were more likely to lose social ties with age: they had a much smaller community of people close to them, and they were less likely to belong to any social organizations, whether church or interest groups.

Poor people were also more likely to complain about symptoms of depression and were more likely to develop chronic diseases later on.

According to the authors, such results can be explained by the fact that rich people have more resources to age more slowly: they tend to have more diverse cultural life, have access to gyms, are more likely to relax in nature, experience less stress and are less exposed to environmental pollution than the poor.

June 18, 2020, 11:38 a.m.

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