Old and Poor Adults Are at a Greater Risk of Developing Dementia

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The data gathered by researchers at the University College London (UCL) shows that a majority of seniors that were living in poverty had a 50% increased risk of developing dementia.

The study was recently published in JAMA Psychiatry. Researchers analyzed data from over 6,000 adults in the U.K. that were born between 1903-1943. They found that 20% of them were very poor, having 50% increased risk of developing dementia, compared to the other 20% least deprived seniors.

The lead author of the study is Dr. Dorina Cadar, UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health. She explains the connection between poverty and dementia:

“The research demonstrates the importance of socioeconomic influences on dementia incidence. We hope our findings help inform public health strategies for dementia prevention evidencing why socioeconomic gaps should be targeted to reduce health disparities and enhance engagement in socio-cultural activities that ultimately contribute to a higher mental resilience or cognitive reserve.”

A Reduced Risk of Dementia Among ‘Well-off Older People’

Studying the data, researchers found that people with a lower socioeconomic status had an increased risk of developing dementia. Moreover, the socioeconomic inequality has risen in people born from 1926 onwards.

Senior author of the study and Professor at the UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health, Andrew Steptoe added that:

“Our study confirms that the risk of dementia is reduced among well-off older people compared with those who have fewer economic resources. “

According to the researchers, there could be different factors to increase the risk of dementia in poor people. It could be because of a less healthy lifestyle or more medical risk factors. A low social and cultural opportunity is also a cause for the weak connection to the world. Andrew Steptoe said:

“Differences in healthy lifestyle and medical risk factors are relevant. It may also be that better off people have greater social and cultural opportunities that allow them to remain actively engaged with the world.”

This is the first study to link socioeconomic factors with an increase in the risk of dementia. In conclusion, it proves that wealth in late life can decrease the risk, no matter the level of education.

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere