The detrimental effects of stress on an individual’s health is well known. From cardiovascular disease, to type 2 diabetes to cancer, stress is known to wreak havoc on both the physical and mental well-being of an individual. Recently the health effects of a specific type of stress was investigated: financial stress. In particular, the scientists sought to determine whether financial stress caused accelerated aging.

Researchers from the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark conducted a study to investigate the effects of financial stress over extended periods of time and at different stages of life in order to determine its effects on aging. For this purpose, the researchers studied approximately 6,000 late-middle-aged people, 18% of whom experienced poverty over an extended period of time. The research was led by Dr. Rikke Lund, and the results were published in the European Journal of Ageing.

Financial hardship was defined as individuals whose incomes were 60% less than the national average. The fundamental result discovered by the research team was that various markers of aging were higher in individuals who experienced sustained financial hardship for at least 4 years. For example markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein, were noticeably higher in individuals who experienced financial hardship. Further, these individuals also displayed impaired cognitive function when compared with participants of the same age who did not experience financial hardship.

Aging populations are particularly at risk for these consequences: the older an individual was when the financial hardship began, the more destructive its effects were. Since healthcare costs are already significantly higher for elderly adults, this study implies that helping individuals financially may potentially protect them from unnecessary illness as they age, thereby saving money in the long run.

In the words of Dr. Lund, “Early aging 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 aging. This knowledge can be used to prevent the problems.”

The conclusion of the research team was that initiatives that focus on reducing the stress of sustained financial hardship may help decrease the rate of accelerated aging in adults.

Beacon of LIFE, in Oceanport, NJ, is a government-approved PACE program created to provide seniors, their family, caregivers and professional health care providers the flexibility to meet their health care needs while continuing to live in their community. Our comprehensive care allows all our clients to maintain their best possible health.

Beacon of LIFE maintains an interdisciplinary team of professionals who give each client the coordinated care they need. Our staff specialize in working with older people, and work with each client and their family to develop the most effective plan of care.

We provide a variety of services, including primary care, hospital care, medical specialty services, prescription drugs, nursing home care, emergency services, home care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, adult day care, recreational therapy, meals, dentistry, nutritional counseling, social services, laboratory / X-ray services, social work counseling, and transportation.

Our care and services allow people who would otherwise need to live in a nursing home to live where they want — in their own communities, in their own homes, regardless of their financial circumstances.

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