Just under 100 days until Thanksgiving. So be grateful if you want to stick around for a while.
Turns out the people most likely to keep us alive well into our 80s and beyond are our complicated, annoying and ultimately endearing families.
Researchers from the University of Toronto’s School of Public Health and the University of Chicago studied nearly 3,000 people, ages 57 to 85, in 2005 and five years later.
They found that older adults who reported feeling “extremely close” with their families had a 6 percent chance of dying within five years. It was 14 percent for those who reported feeling “not very close” to their families.
Closeness to family also appeared to protect against death from cardiovascular disease, although not from cancer.
The findings were presented last week at the American Sociological Association annual meeting in Seattle.
But lead author James Iveniuk of the University of Toronto certainly doesn’t want us to fire our friends. In fact, having a large network of friends, participating in social organizations and being married all contribute to a lower risk of early death.
“And, of course, there are cases of people who have to secede from their families due to abuse,” he said. “We are not claiming that those people would be better off if they reclaimed those relationships.”
Still, there’s something particularly protective about families. Call it loving obligation. In times of crisis, it’s typically family members who step up with financial and emotional support, who endure criticism and dish it out — and are around the next day to do it again.
“When we’re ill, or when we’re old,” Iveniuk said, “family are the people whose obligation toward us really comes into play. I’m very happy that so many people have that choice.”