If you ask mom or dad what they want from their grown-up children, they can give you a very simple answer – to spend more time with them.
This might seem overdramatic for some people, but really, our elderly parents are not asking too much from us. As their children, we want them to live a long, happy, and healthy life. Sure, we provide assistance for their financial and medical needs, but are we sure that they are happy? This leads us to the question of what can make our elderly parents and grandparents happy.
According to research, the key to a longer life is not only by keeping our bodies healthy and but also for us to have a happy life.
Studies reveal that avoiding loneliness can help a person live longer. In fact, a study was conducted in 2012 that involved more than 1,600 adults with an average age of 71. These adults were compared when it comes to their social interactions and how it affects their lifespan. The researches revealed that 23% of the research participants who suffered from loneliness passed away within 6 years. On the other hand, 14% of those who lived with a companion died in the same period.
This concludes that loneliness plays a very important role when it comes to the decline of quality of life in older adults. Earlier death can be caused by the risks of depression, cognitive impairment, and health problems like coronary heart disease.
There is another study which suggests that loneliness is also a factor when it comes to having serious health conditions. It was Julianne Hold-Lunstad from the Brigham Young University who also conducted the same studies. According to this associate professor of psychology, our relationships are very important not only to our quality of life. It has a huge impact on our longevity.
She added, “Throughout human history, we have relied on others for survival, such as protection and food, and despite modern advancements that may (help with) certain aspects of survival so that we can live more independently, it appears that our relationships nonetheless still impact odds of survival.”
This is probably the reason why there are so many elderly people who do not have that much social interaction, pass away earlier than those who have a companion in life. This can also be the reason why some of them suffer from serious health problems.
This is why spending time with their family is very much recommended. But what if this is not possible? This is where nursing homes become the next best option. Despite their bad reputation, these facilities can provide what our elderly loved ones need – social interaction and attention. This means that when they are around other people, they tend to be less lonely. These facilities also have activities for the elderly to keep them active and provide the proper care that they need.
These research results should not only serve as information but also a wakeup call to each and every one of us. Spending time with family does not only mean that we have to be physically present. A simple call every day to check on them is enough to alleviate their loneliness. All they wish is to feel your love and care for them.