If Mom or Dad says you don’t visit enough, they might just be right. As we age, it’s harder to get out and see long-time friends or attend public events. However, the lack of means to engage with others doesn’t equate to a lack of need.
Recent research completed by the University of California at San Francisco confirms that companionship has the ability to improve quality of living and even extend the lifespan of the elderly, a rapidly growing population.
According to the study, the more we age, the higher our likelihood of social isolation. The research, which studied a group of 1,600 adults– averaging at 71 years old ago– stressed that while being lonely is hard on most people, loneliness takes a deeper toll the older week get.
In more direct terms: subjects who were consistently lonely experience higher mortality rates than those who were not.
If you know a senior who could use some companionship, reach out and set up a picnic or a time you can stop by. If it’s a family member who does not live nearby, this study suggests retirement homes and senior communities may not deserve the negative stigma they receive. If your loved one has the opportunity to receive and give companionship in a way they could not before, is that such a bad thing?
“You bring a lot more experience to your friendships when you’re older,” said Rosemary Bliezner, a professor of human development at Virginia Tech. “You know what’s worth fighting about and what’s not worth fighting about.”
It seems like maybe, in this case of the elderly, it’s less about “fighting about” and more about “fighting for” those special relationships that literally keep us going.