Loneliness has become an epidemic. Some researchers even claim that it is deadlier than obesity. Studies show that lonely people have a 50% higher mortality rate than non-lonely people whereas obese people have an 18% higher mortality rate than non-obese people.
Loneliness is a common source of distress, suffering, and impaired quality of life in older persons and is especially detrimental as you age. A study done by the University of Chicago found that loneliness can significantly affect blood pressure, weaken the immune system and lead to a greater risk of depression, heart attack, and strokes.
Spending time with aging parents can help them live longer
The time you spend visiting your parents, chatting with them on the phone and Skyping or Face Timing them isn’t just a nice thing a grown child should do; it contributes to the length and quality of their golden years. Jama International Medicine performed a comparative analysis of lonely and non-lonely seniors and found that lonely seniors were also more prone to suffer from an array of medical conditions at a much higher rate, ailments such as hypertension (3.1% difference), diabetes (2.4% difference), and heart conditions (5.3% difference). And isolated seniors were almost 30% more likely to suffer from depression.
It also turns out that loneliness is a key accelerant in the aging process and associated mortality. Researchers observed 1,600 elderly individuals (average age 71) for a six-year period and found that only 14% of the seniors who were regularly visited by their relatives have died, compared to 23% of participants without family visitors.
Spending time with seniors is beneficial to both you and them
Seniors have a ton of wisdom and experience they are eager to share. The well-spring of knowledge and sage advice that can be ascertained from simply sitting and chatting with an aging person could be life-altering for both of you. And every interaction doesn’t have to involve deep intellectual conversations on how to save the world. Conversations that are silly, meaningless and just make you laugh are just as transformative and beneficial as the more philosophical ones. Share funny stories about the kids, exchange recipes or simply allow your senior parents to share stories about their lives “back in the day.”
Allowing your parents to hear your voice and see your face from time-to-time will not only stave off loneliness but it will help them live longer and you to live better.
Featured photo credit: Pixels via pexels.com
|||^||TCS: Loneliness Is Deadlier Than Obesity|
|||^||LiveScience: Loneliness Kills, Study Shows|
|||^||Jama Network: Loneliness in Older Persons A Predictor of Functional Decline and Death|
|||^||Brightside: Scientists Proved It: The More Time You Spend With Your Parents, the Longer They Live|