Unsafe neighborhoods disable the elderly

May 27, 2009,

Elderly people who live below the poverty line and perceive their neighborhoods to be dangerous are more likely to have a mobility disability. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Public Health suggest that even perceiving one's neighborhood as unsafe can 'get into the body' and, ultimately, prove hazardous for elder health.

Cheryl Clark MD, ScD, from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, led a team of researchers who studied 1,884 people aged 65 and older. They measured both the individuals' perceptions of danger and the levels of violent crime actually reported in the areas where they lived. Although these measures correlated quite well, it was the elder's sense that the neighborhood was unsafe that was most strongly associated with the development of a disability. Clark said, "Our results suggest that dangerous neighborhoods get from the mind into the body and engender mobility disability through psychosocial or psychological processes".

The researchers suggest that lower income elderly who live in unsafe neighborhoods may have fewer resources to cope with neighborhood stresses. Moreover, neighborhoods with high crime rates or a reputation for being dangerous may have more difficulty attracting businesses that provide material resources and services. Of course, the correlation between perception and reality also suggests that elders may have been reacting to actual crime events in their neighborhoods.

Clark concludes, "Our findings underscore the importance of neighborhood safety to healthy aging. Specifically intervening to improve perceptions of neighborhood safety at retirement age may be an important step to reduce the risk of mobility disability among elders".

Perceived neighborhood safety and incident mobility disability among elders: the hazards of poverty; Cheryl R Clark, Ichiro Kawachi, Louise Ryan, Karen Ertel, Martha E Fay and Lisa F Berkman; (in press), http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcpublichealth/

Source: BioMed Central (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Hot cars can hit deadly temperatures in as little as one hour

May 24, 2018
A lot can happen at 160 degrees Fahrenheit: Eggs fry, salmonella bacteria dies, and human skin will suffer third-degree burns. If a car is parked in the sun on a hot summer day, its dashboard can hit 160 degrees in about ...

Research finds a little exercise does a lot of good for ageing muscles

May 24, 2018
Getting old doesn't necessarily mean getting weak and frail – just a little bit of exercise can help maintain muscle mass and strength, Otago research has revealed.

In helping smokers quit, cash is king, e-cigarettes strike out

May 23, 2018
Free smoking cessation aids, such as nicotine patches and chewing gum, are a staple of many corporate wellness programs aimed at encouraging employees to kick the habit. But, new research shows that merely offering such aids ...

What makes us well? Diversity, health care, and public transit matter

May 23, 2018
Diverse neighbors. Health centers. Commuter trains. These community attributes, and other key factors, are linked to well-being and quality of life, according to Yale researchers.

Time spent sitting at a screen matters less if you are fit and strong

May 23, 2018
The impact of screen time on cardiovascular disease, cancer incidence and mortality may be greatest in people who have lower levels of grip-strength, fitness and physical activity, according to a study published in the open ...

Widely used e-cigarette flavoring impairs lung function

May 23, 2018
A new study has found that a common e-cigarette flavoring that has chemical characteristics similar to toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke disrupts an important mechanism of the lungs' antibacterial defense system. The ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.