A new study in the UK has found that wealthier people are living about eight years longer than the disadvantaged, specifically disadvantaged women. When comparing older men and women, older women are more likely to have financial issues, practice unhealthy habits, suffer from bad living conditions, and become more socially isolated. According to the study, because of this lifetime of lower pay and unequal working conditions, women have been found to die sooner than men.
The review found that only 36 percent of women aged 65-69 received the full state pension in 2014, a shockingly low result. Female part-time workers are at the greatest risk of financial insecurity as they get older. The most shocking results were that women who have spent most of their lives working part-time are no better off when retirement comes than women who have never worked at all.
The foundation Centre for Ageing Better worked with several different groups to get these shocking results including, such as the Institute of Health & Society, the Institute for Ageing at Newcastle University, and the International Longevity Centre-UK. These teams spent a year researching 25,000 research papers published over the past decade to put together the review, known as, “Inequalities in Later Life.” They found that poor education, lack of social connections, and a lack of work opportunities all have long-term consequences.
Not only do women suffer these inequalities, but people from minority ethnic backgrounds and the LGBTQ community also have disadvantaged lives that could lead to earlier deaths.
The study found evidence that older people with lower incomes are more likely to have one or more health problems. Some of these include angina, diabetes, depression, osteoarthritis, and cataracts. Poorer people are up to 4.2 times more likely to have diabetes and up to 15.1 times more likely to have osteoarthritis later on in their lives. Not only that, but older people who live in low-income communities are more likely to be frail than wealthier people living in middle-to-high income communities.
Claire Turner, director of evidence at the Centre for Ageing Better, comments on this epidemic, “A good later life is something we should expect for everyone. It should not be conditional on where we live or how much money we have, nor on our gender, race, disability or sexuality. But cumulative poverty and disadvantage throughout life mean that many people will suffer poor health, financial insecurity, weak social connections and ultimately a shorter life. These inequalities – with richer older people living around eight years longer than those with less advantage – are shocking and have sustained over time, despite policy and practice designed to reduce them.”
We need to pay attention to people of lower socioeconomic status because they are as much as human beings as people who have the money to buy their good health and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Low-income families are suffering every day, struggling to scrape up enough cash to go see a doctor because of a health issue that most likely stems from not having enough money to participate in a healthy lifestyle. Education is the key ingredient in this unfortunate disaster. Good education across cities, especially poor communities, could help low-income women and minorities live longer, healthier, and happier.
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