A new study which looked at family relationships revealed that close family ties can extend the lives of seniors. When it comes to older people, close family ties seem to be more important than friendships in ensuring a long life – according to this study.
Seniors who kept close to their family had a six percent lower risk of dying during the next five years, compared to a fourteen percent risk in those who did not keep close to their family.
James Iveniuk, lead researcher of the University of Public Health in Toronto stressed that social ties matter. However, family relationships are even more important than friendships. Being close to friends did not have a big effect. But if people were not close to their families, they somehow were at increased risk of death.
One possible explanation is that people expect more from family, than friends. Families take care of each other, when things are going bad, or if a member is in bad health. The family should always be there for you.
On the other hand, friends nowadays have a tendency to move in and out of your social life, especially if you are not easy company – Iveniuk pointed out.
In some cases, being around family isn’t a good idea. If families are abusive or frustrating, their company is not advised.
But for most people, families are closer and more open to issues like health or income. So they have the potential to delay the death of individuals in that family.
The findings will be considered preliminary before being published in a peer-reviewed journal. One researcher believes that the definition of family should be expanded beyond blood ties or marriage. Dr. Gisele Wolf-Klein points out that the concept of family is always changing.
At least for some people, long-term friendships matter more than relatives. Many of her patients in their 80s and 90s become part of new families, following divorces. Some patients have relationship shifts from a traditional family to a different type of family, like a gay family.
For the above-mentioned study, Iveniuk and his colleague, Phillip Schumm used data from a national level to observe what the most important social networks for delaying death were.
Image Source – Wikipedia