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Finances could affect cognition, aging process

October 12, 2016
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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There’s a new reason to worry about money: it could affect how you age.

Poverty and perceived hardships over time among relatively young Americans are strongly associated with worse cognitive function, according to findings published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“Maintaining cognitive abilities is a key component of health,” said lead investigator Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Miami Health System, in a journal news release. “Findings among this relatively young cohort place economic hardship as being on the pathway to cognitive aging and as an important contributor to premature aging among economically disadvantaged populations. It is important to monitor how trends in income and other social and economic parameters influence health outcomes.”   

Zeki Al Hazzouri and colleagues examined the effects of sustained poverty and perceived financial difficulty on cognitive function using income data for about 3,400 adults who participated in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. Participants included black and white men and women aged 18 to 30 years old at the start of the study in 1985-86. Income data were collected from study participants six times over 25 years.

When the study ended in 2010, participants underwent three standard tests to measure thinking, verbal memory and processing speed. Based on the results, researchers concluded poverty and perceived hardship may be important contributors to cognitive aging.

Previous research has shown that exposure to poor socioeconomic conditions during childhood, adulthood, or cumulatively, is associated with cognitive deficits. However, there is little data on whether economic adversity influences cognitive health much earlier in a person’s life.




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