Why being a cleaner, McDonald’s worker or teaching assistant increases your risk of dementia

Working a low-paying job can make you feel underpaid at the best of times — but now a study has claimed it could even rob you of your memory in retirement.

Researchers at New York’s Columbia University found that people in low-wage jobs are more likely to suffer from cognitive decline, a symptom of dementia.

The study of around 2,900 American adults found that jobs that paid less than two-thirds the average wage had faster memory loss than their higher-paid counterparts.

The researchers said the results suggest that raising the minimum hourly wage could reduce the decline in those earning the lowest wages in society.

Low-wage jobs paid less than two-thirds of the average wage in the country, which currently equates to people earning less than about $27,400 (£22,400) in the US.

In the UK, this would currently be those earning less than £17,100 a year. Jobs that would fall into this category include entry-level cleaners, McDonald’s employees, and teaching assistants.

Average wages fell at the fastest pace in more than two decades in April, with wages currently failing to keep up with the rising cost of living.

Around 900,000 people are believed to be living with dementia in the UK, with rates expected to rise with an aging population.



Researchers at Columbia University in New York found that people in low-wage jobs are more likely to suffer from cognitive decline, which can lead to dementia [stock image]


According to a study by University College London, poor people are more likely to develop dementia.

According to a study, the 20 per cent of the most disadvantaged adults in England are 50 per cent more likely to suffer from severe memory loss than the richest 20 per cent.

The researchers analyzed 6,220 adults over the age of 65 who were born between 1902 and 1943.

Diagnoses of dementia were made by physicians and questionnaires assessing cognitive decline.

Study author Professor Andrew Steptoe said: “Our study confirms that the risk of dementia is lower in affluent older people compared to those with fewer economic resources.

“Many factors could play a role. 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 stay actively connected with the world.”

The insights were published in JAMA Psychiatry in May 2018.

The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, looked at the wages earned by nearly 3,000 people from 1992 to 2004.

All participants who were over 50 when the project started were divided into three groups based on their income: those who always earned low wages during that time, those who sometimes did, and those who never did.

The researchers then used memory tests to examine how quickly their brain speed had declined between 2004 and 2016.

The results showed that those who earned consistently low wages during the prime of their careers experienced significantly faster cognitive decline in their later years.

Those who earned lower wages over a 12-year period from age 50 experienced 10 percent greater memory loss later in life than those with higher wages.

For every decade, low-income earners had brains a year older than those who were consistently above the salary threshold.

The lead scientist Dr. Katrina Kezios said: “Prolonged exposure to low wages during peak earnings years is associated with accelerated memory loss later in life.”

The study did not explain why low wages are associated with cognitive decline.

Cognitive decline leads to a decline in memory, language, and problem-solving skills. Severe cognitive decline causes dementia.

But previous research has shown that it could be due to people earning low salaries and leading unhealthier lives.

These include a poor diet, smoking and drinking more.

Those on lower incomes also tend to have poorer cardiovascular health and high rates of diabetes, which are other risk factors for dementia.

The researchers said more studies should be done to examine how an increase in the minimum wage might reduce cognitive decline.

Lead author Dr. Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri, an epidemiologist, said: “Our findings suggest that social policies that improve the financial well-being of low-wage workers may be particularly beneficial for cognitive health.

“Future work should rigorously examine the number of cases of dementia and excessive years of cognitive aging that could be prevented under various hypothetical scenarios that would increase the minimum hourly wage.”

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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Brian Ashcraft

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