Let this be the reminder you need to pick up the phone and call your mother today and then invite her to come and hang out with you. People know that it's important to spend time with their parents, especially as their parents begin to get on in age, but now science is proving that spending time with your mom can help her live longer.
A new study is showing that loneliness is one of the main causes of declining health and even death in people over the age of 60. The study looked at 1604 people over the age of 60, 59% of whom were women, and as part of the study the participants were asked three different questions; if they feel left out, do they feel isolated, and do they lack companionship? Sadly 43% of the participants said they do feel lonely.
The study found that those who reported feeling lonely were more likely to have difficulty performing regular daily activities. They had trouble in doing tasks that involve utilizing their mobility such as walking or reaching their arms above their head, as well as difficulty doing things such as climbing. That means that people who are exhibiting symptoms of loneliness are having a hard time performing daily tasks that allow them to be independent. Simply being lonely was found to be associated with a greater risk of death as one ages.
"Loneliness is an important contributor to human suffering, especially in elderly persons, among whom prevalence rates may be higher," the study states. "Loneliness is the subjective feeling of isolation, not belonging, or lacking companionship." Maintaining familial connections and fostering friendships can help older people not only feel like they're valued but it can also help their health, both mental and physical.
“The need we’ve had our entire lives — people who know us, value us, who bring us joy — that never goes away,” Barbara Moscowitz, a senior geriatric social worker at Massachusetts General Hospital told The New York Times. The study also showed that in the years following the initial study almost 23% of those who identified as lonely had died, while only 14% of those who didn't identify as lonely had passed away.
Loneliness doesn't just affect one's mental health, but clearly their physical health as well. While loneliness doesn't always mean a person is clinically depressed, if left untreated it can lead to a more serious case of mental illness. With loneliness seriously affecting a person's health, especially as they age, it's so important to spend time with your mother and include her in your life and your children's lives. Elderly grandparents and parents have much to contribute to the family dynamic and can often be a source of support for busy families who can use all the help they can get. Not only do you benefit when you spend time with your mom, but she's obviously benefiting as well.
The next time your mom calls and wants to cook you dinner or simply spend the day with you, don't brush her off. Remember that by making time for your mom you're not only making her feel loved and supported, by you're contributing to her overall health and wellness too.