By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Todays grandparents are smarter than in years past, but poverty puts their health at risk
Todays grandparents are smarter than people their age were in the past. But theyre also in poorer health, and many struggle with poverty. - photo by Herb Scribner
This is a good news, bad news scenario: Todays grandparents are smarter than people their age were in the past. But theyre also in poorer health, according to two new studies cited by Medical News Today.

The two studies, one that looked at the physical and mental health of people in Germany who were older than 50 and another that looked at the cognitive function of elders in England and Germany, found that todays older people have higher cognitive function and increased use of technology, which makes them smarter. But they have more physical and mental health problems than previous generations.

The studies specifically found that people aged 50 to 90 years old did better on cognitive tests in 2012 compared to 2006 but did not improve in physical or mental health tests, according to Medical News Today.

These two results may be because of the changing lifestyle for older generations, said Nadia Steiber, who wrote the German study on physical and mental health, according to Medical News Today.

"Life has become cognitively more demanding, with increasing use of communication and information technology also by older people, and people working longer in intellectually demanding jobs, she said. At the same time, we are seeing a decline in physical activity and rising levels of obesity."

It also may be linked to poverty and low incomes. Many elderly Americans live in poverty or close to it with fixed incomes and modest budgets, according to the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation, which released a detailed analysis of elderly poverty rates in June of this year.

The report found that in 2013, half of all Medicare patients had incomes less than $23,500, which is almost double the poverty line. Still, that income requires the elderly to live modestly and budget, which could force them into poverty, according to HKFF.

High costs for health care can spread their budget thin, which could push them into poverty, according to Governing, a political news website. Experts say low wages among the elderly have also made it difficult for them to find effective health care, Governing reported.

This is especially the case if an elderly person finds him or herself homeless, since they wont have access to certain health care needs. It doesnt help that poverty also affects one's mental, physical and social health, which may put the elderly even more at risk.

Some families have combatted this by moving in with their elder family members, or moving them into homes where they can find adequate health services. Lois Collins wrote about the former last year, reporting that more than 43 million Americans take on the responsibility of caring for their older relatives or friends.

These families will also take on some financial responsibilities to help their elders stay out of debt in their remaining living years, Collins reported.

Of course this can only be done if children and caregivers carefully consider the financial impact of taking care of an elder, which I wrote about earlier this year.

It is an important decision to bring your aging parents to live in your home, but it can be a wonderful experience if approached with careful financial planning and guidance, MarketWatch reported. It's also an opportunity to make your parents' later years pleasant and comfortable. That translates to peace of mind for them and you.