Your financial situation can accelerate the ageing process

Adults who spend four years in economic hardship are at risk of accelerated ageing.

How money woes affect ageing

Research from the University of Copenhagen has found that people who have lived below the relative poverty threshold four or more times in their adult life age significantly earlier than others. 

Genetics, lifestyle and environment are all factors that influence when and how we all age. But the financial situation is also important. 

The researchers found that living four or more years with an income below the relative poverty threshold in adult life makes a significant difference as to when the body begins to show signs of ageing.

To learn more about the context, the researchers tested 5500 middle-aged persons, using various ageing markers including physical capability, cognitive function and level of inflammation.

The results were then compared with the participants' income throughout the 22 years leading up to the test. An annual income of 60 per cent below the median income was considered relative poverty.

In this way, the researchers found that there is a significant correlation between financial challenges and early ageing. 

“Early ageing also means more treatment at an earlier age, and it is a burden both to the individual and the society,” explained study co-author Professor Rikke Lund.

“We show that poor finances are a strong indicator of early ageing; this knowledge can be used to prevent the problems.

“Many people do not necessarily experience any noticeably poorer physical capability until they are growing older and are therefore not aware that their bodies have begun to age prematurely. This means that there will be no focus on preventative measures until it is too late.”

Among other things, the researchers measured the participants' grip strength, how many times they could get up from and sit on a chair in 30 seconds, and how high they could jump. The cognitive tests included tasks of memorising sequences.

“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,” Prof. Lund explained.

The results showed, among other things, that the financially challenged group, relative to the comparison group, could get up and sit down two times fewer per 30 seconds, and that their grip strength was reduced by 1.2 kilograms.

In addition, the researchers measured the inflammatory level of the participants. A high inflammatory level is a sign that the body is in a state of alert and can likewise be used as a marker for illness and ageing. The study shows that the financially challenged also had higher inflammatory levels.

Have you had times in your life where you have experienced financial hardship? How many times have you been in this situation? Do you think you have aged faster as a result?

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    16th Nov 2020
    I'm doomed. I've lived with financial hardship most of my life. Not asking for pity here - its just the way it turned out . I think my face does look tired but I don't feel bad and I have seen friends with far more assets than I who do not seem any more or less content with their lives and current situation than I am. Some in fact worry extensively about things I consider to be remarkably petty and, health wise, at 67 and still on a very tight income (but I own my home) I am just grateful I live in a country with access to healthy and cheap (seasonal) food and reasonable health services and an age pension which, though a bit tight, is workable. I wonder if this article simplifies though agree that current rent levels has taken financial hardship from high to impossible. A certain amount of hardship can teach and strenghen us so would like the article to detail what exactly it is they are looking at.
    16th Nov 2020
    As to you referral about expensive rent it goes both ways. In our younger years we were renting out 2 houses while paying them off. People were happy renting them and did not have exorbitant demands about modernization of the premises and we could keep the rental low. These days everyone wants the best but still at the cheap rate and that won't work. Would never consider being a "land Lord" again. Let the Housing Commission take the risk.
    17th Nov 2020
    Mariner - til a few years ago I rented and my adult children and friends rent now and neither I nor they made 'exhorbitant demands about modernization of the premises'. Other friends who own rental properties also only do basic necessary repairs. I owned a house that I rented out for a few years around 2003 and the only demands made of me was to fix a blocked toilet and repair some plumbing. As a tenant I lived with non functioning air conditioning and a back fence falling down for years despite requests for attention so I fnd your accusations of tenants demanding 'modernization' very puzzling.
    17th Nov 2020
    Live by your means. Rented out 5 houses and still lived on a budget. All sold now and still live on a budget and looking good. When I was young I struggled i left home, lived with friends and car i did any job I could to survive... Still looked good. I dont think poverty ages you, its how you handle it.
    17th Nov 2020
    I agree Jan - except where health is concerned as that can impact ability to work towards improving things. I also know well off people who spend a fortune on things designed to improve their looks - surgery, botox etc - so its bought looks, not ageing naturally. My life has probably aged me but more from never enough sleep and being a worrier so def some lines....
    17th Nov 2020
    Yes Marigold health stops us from working. Two shoulder ops stop me working but my brain was still working so I learnt about investing. I've had 12 operation on different things and more to come, but I keep going. Still working and started a community children’s choir for all the children who can not afford singing lessons. Singing keeps me young and strength to overcome so many battles.

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