The Stress of Sudden Financial Loss for Seniors

Life Savings

Sudden financial loss is very stressful, but for seniors over the age of 65 it can be deadly. A study published by researchers from Northwestern University School of Medicine, April 3, 2018 in the journal of the American Medical Association JAMA showed that suffering a major financial loss comes with a 50% chance of early death from all causes.

The Health and Retirement Study

In fact, the study discovered that seniors who suffered a sudden financial loss of 75% or more of their life-savings over a two-year period had a 50% chance for premature death during the 20 years following the loss. Participants in the study were 8714 middle-aged and older American adults who had suffered a major financial loss in 1994 and ranged in age from 51-61 when the study began. They were followed up until 2014. The study also focused on a group of people who were financially disadvantaged and they had a 67% chance for early death during this same 20 year follow-up period. Thus, seniors who suffered a sudden financial loss had an early death rate almost the same as those who had lived all their lives in poverty. Besides a greater risk for all-cause-mortality, the study also showed that for seniors suffering a sudden financial loss there was a higher risk for:

Greatest Stress for Seniors who Lost their Homes

The greatest stress was for seniors who lost their homes because of their financial loss and these were at a higher risk for death than those who only lost their wealth, but still managed to keep their homes.

More Research is Needed to Find a Way to Stop Early Death from Financial Stress

The researchers stress there is a need to find a way to stop early death in people who suffer sudden financial stress.

Research has also Associated Stress with a High Risk for Chronic Diseases

Stress can also cause or worsen chronic diseases like:

  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Migraine headaches
  • Gastrointestinal problems like ulcers, colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diverticulitis
  • Weakening of the immune system

Stress Made Alzheimer’s Disease Worse in Mice

A study published May 25, 2011 in the Journal of Neuroscience showed that stress worsened Alzheimer’s disease in rats. Some researchers believe that reducing stress could maybe slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s which afflicts more than 5.7 million Americans.

Stress is also Believed to Hasten Aging

A study published December 1, 2004 in PNAS showed that stress can actually speed up the rate of aging by 9-17 years. The study was carried out on 58 pre-menopausal women.

Stress from Chronic Disease led to Financial Stress

Older Adult Survey

While stress from financial loss has been associated with risks for diseases and early death, there is also evidence that a major health condition can lead to financial stress. This is quite a vicious cycle because obviously the financial stress in turn can lead to further health problems. According to the Older Adult Survey by the Federal Reserve System, 30% of seniors reported that their health condition led to financial stress.

Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York

If you or your loved one are in need of short-term rehabilitation or long-term skilled nursing care in the Syracuse NY area, the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing offers expert rehabilitation and care at the hands of a warm and friendly staff. Van Duyn also has a great array of recreational activities.


Seniors who suffered a sudden financial loss of most or all of their life-savings, especially if they also lost their home, and seniors who were all the time living on or under the poverty line suffered from premature death. Stress also causes or worsens many chronic diseases. An intervention has to be found that can prevent seniors from all-cause-mortality after they have a sudden financial loss.



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