Austerity measures up mortality rates in elderly pensioners

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London, March 16 (IANS) Government cut in spending on income support for poorer pensioners can lead to an increased rate of mortality among the vulnerable adults over the age of 85, says a study.

“Poorer older age adults are one of the most vulnerable groups in the population and a reduction of just a few pounds could make a considerable difference to disposable income,” said lead researcher Rachel Loopstra from University of Oxford.

To examine whether budgetary reductions in pension credit and social care is associated with rise in mortality rates among pensioners aged 85 and over, the researchers analysed mortality statistics for 324 local authorities in England covering the years 2007 to 2013.

The researchers found that the average drop of three percent in pension credit spending per beneficiary corresponded to a 1.4 percent rise in mortality in 2012.

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The study was published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Declines in income of poorer older age adults can cause significant stress and anxiety to people of older ages, which could precipitate heart attack or stroke, explained the researchers.

Other reasons for the increase in mortality for these pensioners could include reduced nutrition, inadequate heating, damp or other health damaging circumstances, and social isolation.

Healthcare professionals can play a crucial role in drawing attention to the consequences of these cuts and advocating publicly for policies that protect some of the most vulnerable individuals in society, the authors suggested.

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