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

New 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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    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    tisme
    24th Sep 2019
    10:33am
    im 60, three of the adult family members i cared for have died leaving me with a disabled daughter. i live on the carer pittance no superannuation , no savings. ive been on the "job " 24/7 for 40 years , saving others a fortune while I cant even afford a tshirt my mental and physical health has and continues to deteriorate, and I cant even get the health care I need
    Star Trekker
    24th Sep 2019
    11:39am
    I haven't been doing it as long as you tisme but I feel for you. I care for 3 adults with disabilities varying from single to multiple disabilities. I work occasionally which helps keep my sanity.
    Ted Wards
    24th Sep 2019
    3:14pm
    Hi Tisme, sorry to hear this, I guess you have sought assistance from the many organisations out there that assist carers etc?
    Paddington
    24th Sep 2019
    7:14pm
    tisme, it is people like you who should be prioritised for money as you would spend it all.
    I hope you are talking to the charities who can help as your income is inadequate for sure.
    I also hope you have some friends to support you emotionally.
    neil
    24th Sep 2019
    11:51am
    In this wealthy country you'd think we'd be able to afford to have our elder population living such dreadful lives; but no; 150000 homeless and food banks feeding us.
    Yet Morrison thinks it's okay to give tax cuts to the very wealthy.
    Neil.
    ozirules
    24th Sep 2019
    1:05pm
    cant believe our PM thinks it's ok to shortchange Australias needy while 'investing' 150 million dollars in Americas space program. Did he have 'a mandate' to spend this. His only evident man date is his bromance with Trump(et mouth). Come home scomo, you're punching above your weight on the world stage. Spend your time and our money on the multitude of of needy people and organisations within our shores.
    Tanker
    24th Sep 2019
    2:21pm
    Our PM may call himself a Christian but his values differ from those espoused by Jesus.
    Tanker
    24th Sep 2019
    2:21pm
    Our PM may call himself a Christian but his values differ from those espoused by Jesus.
    Franky
    24th Sep 2019
    7:04pm
    Or how is that for wasting resources: 10 billion spent on fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq for the Americans! What a disgrace, and all with bipartisan government support. Who is in charge of this country?
    Paddington
    24th Sep 2019
    7:11pm
    ozirules, neither ScoMo nor trump went to the climate change emergency in New York.
    That is a disgrace. Australia was not invited to speak because we are doing such a poor job in our efforts to reduce our emissions.
    We might need Mars the way we are going and the sci-fi movies may not be so far fetched after all lol.
    libsareliars
    25th Sep 2019
    3:48pm
    I agree with you all, this is such a disgrace and i feel for those who are doing it tough. Our PM also feels it ok to allow those on Newstart to try to exist on $250/week. What a christian fellow he is.
    neil
    24th Sep 2019
    11:51am
    In this wealthy country you'd think we'd be able to afford to have our elder population living such dreadful lives; but no; 150000 homeless and food banks feeding us.
    Yet Morrison thinks it's okay to give tax cuts to the very wealthy.
    Neil.
    Chris G
    24th Sep 2019
    3:26pm
    Spot on ozirules!
    Lookfar
    24th Sep 2019
    8:59pm
    Tanker, you are brave indeed to claim that the PM is not the Christian he claims, but I have known many Pentecostalists, and despite my personal belief that each Christian sect may contribute something unique, - so wanting to encourage, I have found that Pentecostalists are, when Push comes to Shove, Old testament.
    This is tragic, old testament is fanatic about male domination, smiting root and branch, (genocide) and all sorts of rigid rules and stuff, as you say, is nothing to do with jesus, and particularly, Jesus Christ, notwithstanding that in their lectures, jesus is every third or fourth word.
    I guess you have to read the New Testament to understand this, but whether you believe in God or not, the New Testament is more for our future, the Old Testament, most books thereof are common with Jewish and Muslim teaching, are working for the destruction of the human race, - not that they would admit that, but, that is where they are and Global Warming, or Climate Emergency, they see as part of their sick future scenario, paying for our sins, where their version of God makes us all robot like slaves with no Free Will and no place for Love, as real love requires free will.
    Sad to be led by such lost souls, but you and me can decide otherwise, and find our own path, the path appropriate for Australia, leading to freedom and love, a hope for the future, not stuck in the arse clenching beliefs of the past, nor, I suspect, coal.
    libsareliars
    25th Sep 2019
    3:50pm
    Well said Tanker.
    musicveg
    29th Sep 2019
    2:12pm
    Thanks for the education about Pentecolstalists I did have my suspicions that they were old fashioned, we have no hope for change for the better and moving forward if we vote in religious fanatics. Jesus only wanted love and equality for all. (I am not religious but I think Jesus was a pretty cool dude).
    musicveg
    29th Sep 2019
    2:15pm
    Yes I have lived in financial hardship most of my life now, was looked after as a child and did okay in the early youth but after 1990 things went down hill. I still found ways to live a healthy and positive life though, it can be done, but I do feel sorry for people like tisme who have a lot more on their plate than me. At least I have time and energy to grow a few veggies to keep me healthy and exercised.