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Mental Health in Later LifeTaking a Life Course Approach$
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Alisoun Milne

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781447305729

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447305729.001.0001

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Socio-economic disadvantage and poverty

Socio-economic disadvantage and poverty

(p.105) 5 Socio-economic disadvantage and poverty
Mental Health in Later Life

Alisoun Milne

Policy Press

Chapter 5 is the first of three chapters exploring the impact of age related risks affecting particular sub populations of older people. Socioeconomic disadvantage in later life tends to reflect a lifecourse status. It amplifies what is already present. In 2016/17 one million older people were living in poverty; an additional 1.2 million were living just above the poverty line. These numbers are rising. Those aged 85 years or over, frail older people, older women and single older people are particularly at risk. Poor older people are also more likely to live in poor housing and be exposed to fuel poverty. Being poor - and its concomitants - compromises mental health in a number of profound ways. It undermines an older person’s capacity to make choices, retain independence, save for a crisis, maintain social contacts and be digitally included. It is linked with worry, loss of control over life and shame. Poor older people are at heightened risk of isolation and loneliness, stress, anxiety and depression. The UK has a weak policy record, compared with other developed countries, of sustainably and coherently addressing poverty in later life. One of the cornerstones of doing so is a continued commitment to the basic state pension as a fundamental building block of a secure old age. Addressing poor housing is also pivotal.

Keywords:   Socioeconomic disadvantage, poverty and later life, The effects of poverty on older people’s mental health, Policy and poverty amongst older people

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