As we get older, we choose which relationships we prioritize and which fall by the wayside. For some people, family ties are the first ones to go. Adult siblings may stop speaking, or they call their aging parents less and less frequently.
What they may not realize is that these actions could actually have an impact on their parents’ health, according to a new study out of the University of California-San Francisco. Researchers followed 1,600 older adults (average age of 71) for six years, evaluating loneliness, functional decline, and deaths during the duration of the study.
They found that 23 percent of adults who were lonely died within the six years, but only 14 percent of adults with adequate levels of companionship passed away. They also discovered that 43 percent of adults over 60 feel isolated. The conclusion: Loneliness plays a huge role in human suffering, especially in the elderly, and it can lead to medical issues like depression, cognitive decline, and even cardiovascular disease.
Even if your life is hectic with work, young kids, and whatever other commitments you have, find the time to call your parents. It may just be a little way to connect with them, but you all will benefit from it—emotionally and physically.