It’s common knowledge spending time with people is good for your health – and that’s exactly why spending time with family members will make you live longer.
A 2015 study indicated it can increase a person’s risk of premature death by up to a quarter and lonely people have a 64 per cent increased chance of developing clinical dementia.
So, with that in mind, spending quality time with your family members improves their quality of life as well as improving their chances of a longer life.
Julianne Holt-Lunstad, professor of psychology at Brigham Young University in Utah, according to Happiest, said:
Our social relationships are important not only to our quality of life, but also our longevity.
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 could explain why many elderly people who don’t have a lot of social interaction pass away suddenly or seem to suffer from more health problems than other people of the same age who have more social interaction.
More than half of people over the age of 75 live alone, in the UK, two fifths of older people – around 3.9 million – say their only company is the TV and 17 per cent of older people are only in contact with friends, family and neighbours less than once a week.
Studies have found loneliness is as damaging to a person’s health as ‘smoking 15 cigarettes a day’.
In the run up to Christmas last year, UNILAD spoke to Barry Ward.
He spoke about his personal experience with loneliness, which hit him after his wife Christine died three years ago.
He also said some people will struggle at first and sometimes, just need a friendly nudge.
Barry states he’s ‘lucky’ to have the friends he did who ‘dragged’ him out, telling UNILAD:
I was very fortunate, I’ve been a golfer all my life, I couldn’t play of course, I hadn’t played for a long time when Christine became ill and was hospitalised for more than a year so I didn’t see my friends at the golf club but they came trooping around and dragged me off as it were, to try to resume a ‘normal life’.
At the very least I started playing golf again which is good for my health anyway and it gave me a reason for carrying on. That was a great benefit, without that I don’t know what I’d have done.
For instance, I can’t play as it stands because I’m slightly disabled at the moment so I haven’t been playing but I find my depression lowering. My mental health is lowering with my physical health. So I can imagine elderly people that live alone and can barely get out. My friend can walk 100 yards and that’s it. Fortunately, I live nearby and we see each other everyday so we help each other in a way.
Always be there for your family, make the time to see them and spend time with them and if you have the extra time, why not help an elderly neighbour?
For more information on people living with loneliness, visit Campaign To End Loneliness.