23 August 2016
It is a known fact that urban dwellers who live fast-paced lives and try to grapple with the fast-changing dynamics of city life have little or no time to spend with their older relatives.
As a matter of fact, many urban dwellers in developed countries put up their older relatives at government institutions and welfare homes where they even rarely create time to go check up on them.
Loneliness among older citizens have been linked to the risk of depression, heart disease, unhappiness and worse still loss of appetite at one point or the other.
According to a new study, only the presence of family members can lower mortality in older people.
Lead author James Iveniuk, of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, Canada, and colleagues found that older adults who have more family members and who are closer to their families have a lower risk of death, though the same link could not be made with friends.
For their study, the researchers drew data from the 2005/2006 and 2010/2011 waves of the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project.
In the first wave, participants aged 57 years to 85 years were asked to list up to five people they felt closest to, as well as report what their relationship was with these individuals and how close they felt to each person. The mortality of the participants was then assessed in the second wave.
The majority of participants were married, were in good physical health, and reported low levels of loneliness.
The study results revealed that participants who reported feeling “extremely close” to non-spousal family members within their list of closest confidants had around a 6 per cent risk of death over the following five years, while those who reported feeling “not very close” to non-spousal relatives had a 14 per cent risk of death.
What is more, the researchers found participants who listed more family members than friends as their closest confidants had a lower risk of death during the subsequent five years, regardless of their feelings of closeness.
“Regardless of the emotional content of a connection, simply having a social relationship with another person may have benefits for longevity.
Going back to the very first sociological theorists, many different thinkers have noted that there is some kind of special significance that people attribute to family ties, leading people to stay close to and support people who wouldn’t necessarily be individuals that they would associate with if they had the choice,” says Iveniuk.
We might have to adjust our busy lives to accommodate our older ones if we want them to live longer.
Author: Dotun Obatuyi
My name is Dotun Obatuyi (Dotunoba), I hail from Osun state, a public health scientist (monitoring and evaluation specialist), my keen interests are researching, critiquing and writing feature articles on health, science and technology as well as issues around the globe.