Hanging Out With Mom Is Good for Her Health
6 minute read
Your mom has done so much for you over the years, and all she wants is for you to spend a little time with her. It turns out that spending time with her might be the best gift you can give her. Studies have found that your mom’s health improves when you spend time together.
While you’re at it, give your dad and grandparents a little of your time, too. It’s incredible how much it can mean to their happiness, quality of life, and longevity.
Why Quality Time Matters
The University of California in San Francisco conducted a study that addressed loneliness in adults amongst an average age of 71. The study followed 1,604 people who were asked if they felt left out, isolated, or if they lacked companionship.
They answered all three questions over a period between 2002 and 2008, and they were categorized as lonely or not. They were further evaluated on their cognitive and functional decline, and their death was also recorded.
The study determined that in older people, the decline in health and possibly death was not only influenced by biomedical factors but also by psychosocial distress. The psychosocial factors can have a more significant effect than previously thought with nearly 23% of the lonely participants passing away in the predefined six-year timespan, while 14% of the participants who were rated with adequate companionship passed away.
According to an article in Harvard Health Publishing, loneliness affects 25 to 60% of older Americans, which puts them at risk for poor health resulting from prolonged periods of loneliness.
Going even further, the Harvard Study of Adult Development has been following Harvard Graduates, all men, since 1938. The goal of the study was to discover what leads to a healthy and happy life.
One of the key discoveries is that our relationships and how happy we are in them are a powerful influence on health. Close relationships help to delay mental and physical decline. They can even be a better predictor of longevity and happiness than social class, IQ, or genetics.
How to Battle Loneliness
Whether you’re looking for ways to help the people in your life be less lonely, or you want to make a change in your own life to be more social, the following ideas can help you battle loneliness, affect a change for better physical and mental health, and possibly help you live longer.
1. Have Conversations
Having a conversation with someone seems to be a lost art, at least in person. It seems that everywhere you go people are walking around with their eyes glued to a portable device. Gone are the days when people said “hello” to each other and made eye contact. This can be very isolating, especially for people who don’t use portable devices.
Try connecting with people through a face-to-face conversation and see how that can change your mood and theirs. If you can’t get face to face with your loved one due to distance, then opt for a video chat over a phone call. The more connected you can be, the better.
2. Try Group Activities
There are so many benefits to joining a group or trying a group activity with your family members. Not only do you all get to enjoy the time together, but you get to have an experience that can enrich your lives.
Whether you take a fitness class together or sign up for a pottery class, the time you spend together will be filled with learning and companionship. As an added reward, you might also expand your social circle and bring more people into your lives.
Volunteering is a rewarding activity in itself, and everyone who does it gets some emotional benefit out of the experience. Doing this with your family members strengthens your bond with them, but it also opens them up to doing more volunteer work on their own.
The great thing about volunteering is that there are often fantastic one-on-one opportunities to learn about other people and feel like your contributions make a difference.
4. Embrace Animals
Adopting a pet is a wonderful way to combat loneliness. Pets become family members because they bring so much unconditional love and companionship to the owners. However, having a pet isn’t the only way to get the benefits of being around animals.
Volunteering at a shelter gives animals a much-needed dose of human attention. Even taking a neighbor’s dog for a walk when they’re away can elevate your mood and reduce loneliness.
Many older adults have a lot of talents and skills they’ve learned throughout their lives. You can help an older person in your life by being willing to learn.
If they’re adept at woodworking, or knitting, or whatever it may be, learning will not only boost your talents, but teaching gives them a purpose and a feeling of respect and value. If you’re looking to battle your own loneliness, then teaching others can help you make regular connections and enrich the lives of others.
The Bottom Line
As researchers are discovering, loneliness is a more significant factor in illness and even death in the elderly than ever before. However, by keeping your family and social circle strong, you can help ward off loneliness and encourage good mental and physical health in those you love.
There are several different ways you can reach out to people who might need a friend or some companionship. A good, old-fashioned phone call is one way to bridge the gap, but there are other ways you can go above and beyond to not only enjoy your time together but to help establish new relationships and forge new friendships.
Spending quality time with your mom or other older family members will not just boost their quality of life, but you’ll reap the rewards, too. The concept of loneliness is too often associated with the elderly, but research has proven that loneliness can affect all age groups.
It’s important to find ways to be connected to those around you, and your health depends on it.