Systematic Compassion

A pair of studies presented at a recent Alzheimer’s Association International Conference show that there seems to be a relationship between a person’s cognitive function and not only where they currently live, but also where they were born.  It seems that those born in deprived neighborhoods had a greater risk of mental decline later in life.  Additionally, those currently living in deprived neighborhoods had worse cognitive performance than those who did not live in a deprived neighborhood. 

I am glad these studies were done as they show how poverty affects mental health.  Other studies have shown that poverty contributes to declines in other aspects of health also.  To my mind, it seems fairly clear that poverty is a real health risk, as well as a financial drain on society.  Due to poverty, there is not only crime, but loss of productivity due to sick workers, and excessive costs to the public for healthcare.  Since poverty causes so much misery for so many, as well as cost to the general public, why don’t we eradicate it?  It should occur to someone in the government to do something about this, particularly if they view the financial aspects of the issue.  Social intervention is needed, not merely better or more accessible healthcare.  Since personally caring about people we don’t know is difficult for most people, looking at how the poverty of others affects us may help provide motivation for action.

I am afraid, though, that it will take some public health catastrophe to spur anyone to action in this area.  We appear to be unable to learn from others’ experience, such as the Ebola crisis, which spread among the poor in the affected areas of Africa.  When something like this happens here, then action will be taken. 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this issue were addressed before we have to endure such a crisis?

You can sign up to view the article in Medscape here.


Copyright © 2017 Teresa Chupp.  All rights reserved.