Most people know that seniors who have a lot of friends are more likely to live longer than seniors who have few or more friends. In fact, in general, our circle of friends can determine how happy we are and how good we are at coping with life’s hurdles. What is less commonly known is what types of friends increase longevity. Members of your family are considered your friends and your regular peers are your friends.
Many people stress the importance of family over friends by using phrases like “Blood is thicker than water,” and “Only a mother could love him.” With the popular use of such phrases, one might think come to an incorrect conclusion. If family is all a person has left after retiring and becoming a senior, it might be wrongly assumed that the person is doing just fine.
Studies have shown that friends are more important than family when it comes to longevity in older people. A 10 year long longevity study was done on people over the age of seventy at the Centre for Ageing Studies at Flinder’s University in Adelaide, Australia.
The study controlled variables such as economical, social, and enviormental factors. After controlling these and conducting in depth interviews with approximately 1500 older people the study came up with the following conclusions.
Over the course of the 10 year study, close connections with children and other relatives had little to no effect on longevity.
Those with many networks of excellent friends and people they could confide in surpassed the lifespans of those with the fewest friends by 22 percent.
Friendships continued to positively effect longevity throughout the ten year period even in the face of a spouse’s death or other relatives.
Relatives are still important in a senior’s life because they can help an older person cope with disabilities and illness. However, in terms of longevity, relatives have very little effect.
Perhaps the reason why friends are so important to a senior’s survival is because friends can help a person get through difficult times in terms of emotions and life experiences. They can provide an outlet for stress, and they perhaps would persuade a senior to see a doctor if they noticed something was wrong. It’s important to note that the study did not make any distinctions between long term and new found friends.
In conclusion, seniors need to ensure that they are in close relationships with both friends and family, but friends are particularly important for seniors to ensure that they will experience a long life.