Rapidly Losing Wealth Linked to Cognitive Decline, Elevated Dementia Risk
A large sustained financial shock late in life may contribute to cognitive decline and a higher risk of dementia.
That’s according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study’s researchers analyzed data from 8,082 older adults who participated in the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study between 1996 and 2020.
“Negative wealth shock” – defined as someone losing more than three-quarters of their total wealth within a two-year period — was associated with cognitive decline and a higher risk for dementia, according to the study.
The study lends more evidence to the fact that certain factors, such as lower socioeconomic status in mid-life, are linked to increased risks of dementia and dementia-related deaths.
“Our findings might shed light on the specific characteristics of populations who were at high risk of dementia and highlight the implementation of government policies and public health strategies to enhance the financial, social, and psychological supports for dementia prevention,” the study’s authors wrote.
The study also notes that negative wealth shock can be classified as a “stressful life-course event,” with experimental evidence suggesting psychological stress may increase brain vulnerability and pathological cognitive impairment.
The results indicate wealth shocks and incident dementia are stronger for participants younger than 65, as those older “are more likely to have an increase in positive emotions and a reduction in negative emotions and cope better with negative events.”
The study’s authors wrote further studies and and perspectives are warranted to confirm the findings.
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