Friends ‘help people live longer’

Good friends promise to be there for you, and their presence can actually help you live longer, researchers say.

Australian scientists said having friends around in old age can do more for life expectancy than having family members around.
….
The research is in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
The team took data from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging (ALSA), which began in 1992 in Adelaide, South Australia.
….
It was found that close contact with children and relatives had little impact on survival rates over the 10 years.

However, those with the strongest network of friends and acquaintances were statistically more likely to be alive at the end of the study than those with the fewest.

This was evident even if the person had been through major changes such as the death of a spouse or close family members, and the relocation of friends to other parts of the country.
….
They also suggest that friends may encourage people to look after their health, and help reduce feelings of depression and anxiety at difficult times.
….
Dr Lorna Layward, research manager for Help the Aged, said: “As we get older we may lose friends, so it’s essential to constantly build and maintain new relationships.
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She added: “Importantly, as a society, we do need to include older people more and encourage communities to build the kind of environments that allow social networks to blossom.

“We know that for many older people, transport can be a barrier to getting out and about to visit friends, so offering a lift to an older neighbour would mean more than most would realise.”

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/health/4094632.stm

Published: 2005/06/15 23:48:40 GMT

&#A9; BBC MMV


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