Financial Savvy Linked To Better Later Life Outcomes

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MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Bryan D. James, PhD Assistant Professor Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center Chicago, IL 60612

Dr. James

Bryan D. James, PhD
Assistant Professor
Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center
Chicago, IL 60612

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: This study is part of a larger body of research examining how literacy and decision making abilities in different areas of life can affect the health and well-being of older adults.

The main finding of this study is that a better ability to understand and utilize financial concepts was related to a lower risk of hospitalization in old age.

Over almost 2 years of follow-up, 30 percent of the 388 older men and women in this study were hospitalized at least once. A 4-point higher score on the scale of financial literacy, representing one standard deviation, was associated with about a 35 percent lower risk of hospitalization. This was after adjusting for a number of factors including physical and mental health indicators and income. The association appeared to be stronger for knowledge of financial concepts such as stocks and bonds, as opposed to the ability to perform numerical calculations. Additionally, the association was stronger for elective hospital admissions as opposed to emergency or urgent hospitalizations; this may support the notion that financial literacy is related to medical decision-making surrounding the decision to be hospitalized, such as which procedures are covered by Medicare.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: These results indicate that financial literacy may present a modifiable avenue for keeping older adults out of the hospital, though more research is necessary to support this claim. This study adds support to the claim that financial savvy is related to better health outcomes in later life.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: The main recommendation would be that researchers continue to study financial literacy as a modifiable risk factor for hospitalization in older adults. Most important in establishing this relationship would be evidence indicating that improving financial literacy can actually lead to a lower hospitalization risk.

In the absence of such clear evidence, however, there is no reason not to recommend boosting financial education for older persons, especially as the proportion of life spent postretirement living on savings and government subsidies is increasing. The findings build on a growing body of research demonstrating that financial literacy is not only related to monetary outcomes and economic well-being in later life, but also better physical and psychological health outcomes.

Citation:

Association of Financial Literacy With Hospitalization in Community-dwelling Older Adults
James BD , Wilson RS ,Shah RC , Yu L ,Arvanitakis Z , Bennett DA , Boyle PA
Medical Care [01 Jul 2018, 56(7):596-602]
DOI: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000000932

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