Foreclosures and depression for older Americans

old and concerned

Rising mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures will lead to rising levels of depression and a possible healthcare crisis. The American Journal of Public Health released the first long term survey of the impact the current housing crisis is having on older Americans. The adults, over the age of 50, are experiencing increased stress and making unhealthy trade-offs, like sacrificing healthy food and prescription drugs, in order to make their house payments.

“More than a quarter of people in mortgage default or foreclosure are over 50,” says Dawn E. Alley, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Mary land 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.”

By 2009, 2.8 million properties were in some form of foreclosure. Research clearly shows that home ownership is related to healthfulness and happiness, while financial strain is linked with worse health and higher death rates.

“This study has pinpointed an issue that until now has been somewhat under the radar, but which threatens to become a major public health crisis if not addressed,” says E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland and dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

The study also found that minority and lower-income homeowners were at higher risk for default. “Our results suggest that the housing crisis may be akin health disparities worse,” said Dr. Alley, “because these groups had poorer health, lower incomes and higher levels of debt even before the current mortgage crisis.”

Source: American Journal of Public Health, MedicalNewsToday

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