As if you needed another reason to hang out with your mama, dad, mimi, or pops: New research shows that keeping close relationships is key for a long and healthy life among the elderly.
According to The New York Times, about a quarter of men and almost half of women who are over the age of 75 live alone, which means it’s imperative we keep them company in their twilight years.
"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, said to The New York Times. Based on a theory by Laura Carstensen, a psychologist at Stanford University, the elderly rid themselves of shallow relationships, and instead focus on building meaningful ones. The theory is aptly titled “socioeconomic selectivity.”
“[The elderly] invest more in their remaining connections. They optimize friendships, rather than try to maximize,” Gary Kennedy, director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center, said to The Times.
A study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco backs up the notion that loneliness is a literal killer. In 1,600 test subjects who were around age 71, those who experienced loneliness were all the more likely to have a hard time with daily living. In fact, almost 23 percent passed away within six years. Compare that figure with those who weren’t lonely — only 14 percent died within the same timeframe.
Additionally, loneliness can bring about such perilous health conditions as higher blood pressure and dementia. So, plan to stop by Memaw's this week and take her to lunch. It means more than you think.