A new study published by JAMAPsychiatry has suggested that being less well off in later life could be linked to a higher risk of dementia.
Researchers took a look at 6,220 British people over the age of 65, and found that those with fewer financial resources when they were older were more likely to develop dementia.
The study found that the connection could be made regardless of the level of schooling people had received, and other health indicators. It also suggested that the link had been found as those with less money generally received poorer medical care.
Dorina Cadar PhD, who worked on the study at University College London, commented on the findings. She suggested that those with more money may also be more able to stay better engaged with the community, and may be able to afford a healthier lifestyle.
She said, “Many factors could be involved. 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.”
The Alzheimer’s Society commented on the link, also suggesting that there are a range of lifestyle factors that could affect our dementia risk.
Dr Doug Brown, Chief Policy and Research Officer at Alzheimer Society said, “With the number of people living with dementia set to rise from 850,000 to 1 million by 2021, understanding and developing ways to slow this increase is more important than ever.
“This new research shows that groups of people with less money have a higher risk of developing dementia, possibly because they are more likely to have poorer medical care.”
He continued, “We know there are ways we can all reduce our risk of dementia, such as staying physically active, eating healthily and not smoking. These findings reinforce the fact that we need to ensure advice on how to reduce dementia risk and support reaches everyone so people can make informed decisions about their lifestyle.
“Research can play a role to ensure that everyone, whatever their ‘pay packet’, reduces their risk of dementia and gets the care they need.”
In recent years, the huge financial impact of Alzheimer’s has been widely reported.
Given that many suffering from the disease will eventually need to be put into specialist care homes, and will also need medical care from the NHS, costs are inevitably sky-rocketing.
According to Alzheimer’s Research UK, the average annual cost per person for someone with dementia, with regards to NHS care, care homes, and unpaid care from friends and relatives, can be huge. For someone with mild dementia, the cost is around £26,000, while for someone with moderate dementia, it is £43,000.
For dementia patients who are in the more serious, later stages of the disease the cost per year is around £55,000.