Mortgage foreclosures and the housing crisis are not only affecting Americans’ finances, but also their health, according to a recent study by the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH).
If you think about it, anytime you have problems with money, you probably have trouble sleeping, concentrating and maybe even eating. Stress can make you short-tempered, depressed and lead to a myriad of other problems that can wreak havoc on your body.
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The focus of the study released last month was American homeowners ages 50 years and older. It is the first long-term study correlating the housing and economic crisis with health. The study findings may not be surprising, but the results are alarming. The age group of those 50 years or older were the most likely to suffer from depression when they fell behind on their mortgage payments.
Even worse, when these homeowners start having trouble making mortgage payments, they cut back spending in other necessary areas. These homeowners often end up choosing between paying for their food and medication or their home. The study shows that approximately 25 percent of those Americans who are delinquent on their mortgage payments are in the age group of 50 years or older.
As part of the study, researchers reviewed data from the Health and Retirement Study, which was another national survey of Americans 50 years or older. The 2008 survey included 2,474 participants and of these participants:
- 28 percent said they cut back on food purchases to help make up for paying the mortgage,
- 22 percent of the respondents that were at least two months delinquent on their mortgage payments between 2006 and 2008, reported high blood pressure problems, and
- 32 percent chose paying for their medications over paying for their mortgage.
To put this in perspective, the results of the Health and Retirement Study were all in the double digits. Previous studies of older Americans struggling to choose between paying the mortgage and paying other expenses was in the single digits, prior to 2006.
According to Dawn E. Alley, a principal investigator in the AJPH study and an assistant professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine, “For an older person with chronic conditions like diabetes or hypertension, the types of health problems we saw are short-term consequences of falling behind on a mortgage that could have long-run implications for that person’s health.”
New study data, coupled with previous survey data, show that the economic and mortgage crisis is adversely affecting the health of Americans. The economic problems seem to be especially attacking the older generations, American homeowners aged 50 years and older. The studies reveal that many older American homeowners are forced to choose between paying their mortgage or taking care of their health. It further becomes problematic because whether these folks are able pay their mortgage or not, the stress of it all is exacerbating health issues that are prevalent in this age group anyway.
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