MOTIVATION is one of the factors for maintaining quality of life in older adults, and for aspiring to reach the age of 120 or more. And social relations are an example of incentive for older adults.
That was confirmed by Australian experts whose research led them to affirm that older adults with good, varied social relations are more likely to increase their life expectancy than those who are isolated or only have family relationships.
A report on their studies highlights the importance of friendships and contact between older people and children, among other conclusions. The study, carried out by researchers at Flinders University in Australia, notes that it is important to make new friends in old age in order to prevent the harmful and unhealthy feelings of loneliness resulting from the death of friends and family members as the years go by.
Friendship increases the life expectancy of older adults, even more so than family relationships, affirms the study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community.
Researchers carried out a 10-year study of the influence of social relationships on adults older than 70 with children, friends, confidantes and relatives, including variables such as social life, health and lifestyles. They followed 1,477 older adults in order to determine the influence of these relationships on their life expectancy. The study focused on the town of Adelaide, in southern Australia.
Participants in the study revealed information regarding their personal relationships, such as the number of times they made phone calls to the members of their social networks: family, children or friends. Researchers also analyzed the survival rates of participants over a decade, discovering that contact with relatives (cousins, brothers, nephews, etc.) did not increase their life expectancy rate.
However, those participants with more and better friendships showed a statistically higher likelihood of remaining alive by the end of the study.
Those who were more sociable were 22% more likely to survive and to be less at risk of dying than those were less outgoing.
Researches believe that relationships with families are not optional, while friendships are, which would explain why family relationships do not contribute to living longer.
Likewise, they point to the importance of making new friendships during old age, with the goal of replacing friends who disappear as time goes by.
The study’s results confirm the importance of having a social life in older adulthood, as a way of remaining active and hopeful, which brings a better quality of life and the desire to keep living.
Cuba is also acquiring valuable experiences in this sense, with the creation of Senior Citizen Centers that bring together the interests of thousands of older adults in different social relationships, such as celebrating birthdays together; outings to recreational sites and museums; collective physical exercise under doctors’ instructions; participation in conferences and studies as part of the University of the Older Adult, and other activities that make for a pleasant atmosphere.