Unhappy Family or Trauma in Youth Leads to Poor Health in Old Age

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedicalXpress.

Adverse childhood experiences have impacts deep into old age, especially for those who experienced violence, and include both physical and cognitive impairments.

It’s known that a difficult childhood can lead to a host of health issues as a young or midlife adult, but now, for the first time, researchers at UC San Franciso have linked adverse experiences early in life to lifelong health consequences.

They found that older U.S. adults with a history of stressful or traumatic experiences as children were more likely to experience both physical and cognitive impairments in their senior years. Stressful childhood experiences could include exposure to physical violence or abuse, severe illness, family financial stress or being separated from parents.

The study, which appears Aug. 2, 2023, in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found that those who experienced violence in childhood were 40% more likely to have mobility impairment and 80% more likely to have difficulty with daily activities. Those who came from unhappy families were 40% more likely to have at last mild cognitive impairment.

Drawing upon data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project, a national cohort of older U.S. adults, the new study examined nearly 3,400 participants, slightly more than half female, who were 50 to 97 years old and lived in community settings.

Close to half—44%—reported a history of at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE) between age 6 and 16. These included experiencing violence (14%), witnessing violence (16%), financial stress (13%), separation from a parent (16%), and poor health (6%) in childhood. One in five reported more than one adverse childhood experience.

“Given how common ACEs were among our participants, it shows that stressful early life experiences may be markers of risk of functional impairment and disability later in life,” said first author and UCSF medical student Victoria M. Lee.

Source: MedicalXpress

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on Crosswalk.com and Religiontoday.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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