Among older adults, close family relationships are more important than friendships in extending life. According to a study presented at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting in Seattle, WA senior citizens who are extremely close with their family members had only 6% risk of dying within next five years. On the other hand, individuals who reported they weren’t close to their family had 14% risk of death in the same timeframe.
These findings suggest that although social integration does matter, family relationships are more vital. In fact, people who weren’t close to their family also had an elevated risk of heart attack or stroke.
Why is family more important than friends when it comes to health? According to scientists at the University of Toronto, it’s because there are strong expectations about the family taking care of you, particularly if your health is already affected by some chronic disease. On the other hand, friends are more likely to move in and out of your network. This doesn’t mean socializing with friends isn’t important, in fact, an active social life sports a wide array of benefits. So, don’t throw your mates away, but keep your family close – your heart and mind will be better for it. Literally.