General Article Signs of old age appear much earlier in poorer people

Topic Selected: Ageing Book Volume: 378

Differences between the highest and lowest wealth groups were significant in numerous areas, including walking speed and memory.

By Paul Gallagher

Signs of old age appear much earlier in poorer people, a study has found. UCL researchers used a sample of more than 5,000 people, with an average age of 64, from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, first assessing them in 2004 and then eight years later in 2012.

They looked at whether the rate at which the participants aged varied with their socioeconomic status, and measured the rate of physical and mental decline in six areas including physical capability, such as hand grip strength and walking speed, memory and other functions, and emotional wellbeing.

Factors such as ethnicity, educational attainment, childhood socioeconomic status, and each person’s number of long-term conditions such as arthritis, asthma, cancer, coronary heart disease, and diabetes, were taken into account.

The study found that there was a more rapid deterio...

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