The More Time You Spend With Your Parents, The Longer They'll Live

October 4, 2017

loneliness bad for elderly study proof

Loneliness can bring many dangers into your life, but for the elderly, it can be deadly.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, followed 1,600 participants (with an average age of 71) and found that those who reported loneliness were more likely to develop difficulties with activities of daily living. Even when the study controlled for socioeconomic status and health, the lonely had higher mortality.

Nearly 23% of lonely participants died within six years of the study, as opposed to only 14% of those that reported adequate companionship.

"The need we've had our entire lives — people who know us, value us, who bring us joy — that never goes away," Barbara Moscowitz, senior geriatric social worker at Massachusetts General Hospital, tells the The New York Times.

The elderly place great value in those relationships, so much so that they often overlook a great deal more than their children or even their grandchildren do. It comes down to important relational skills, Rosemary Blieszner, a professor of human development at Virginia Tech, told The New York Times — skills that our grandparents have had a lifetime to hone.

"They're pretty tolerant of friends' imperfections and idiosyncrasies, more than young adults," she said. "You bring a lot more experience to your friendships when you're older. You know what's worth fighting about and not worth fighting about."

So invite Grandma over for dinner more often. Not only will it increase her quality of life, it could extend it.

(h/t) Good Housekeeping, New York Times

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