How often do you see your parents? / Getty Images

Apparently, loneliness is a significant factor in the decline of quality of life

How often do you see your parents? Our busy schedules mean many of us feel we’re not seeing them as much as we should, or would like to. But making time for our parents could extend their lives, a new study shows.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that loneliness could lead to functional decline and, in some cases, premature death in older people.

The study, Loneliness in Older Persons, studied 1,600 adults with an average age of 71. It revealed that that nearly 23 per cent of lonely participants died within six years of the study, compared to only 14 per cent of those that reported experiencing adequate levels of companionship.

Researchers also found that 43 per cent of people over the age of 60 feel isolated.

Accordingly, the research concluded that loneliness is a significant factor in the decline of quality of life in older adults and could lead to depression, cognitive impairment and other health problems like coronary artery disease. 

“The need we've had our entire lives - people who know us, value us, who bring us joy - that never goes away,” Barbara Moscowitz, senior geriatric social worker at Massachusetts General Hospital, told the New York Times.

The theory that loneliness may impair health outcomes in older persons isn’t a new concept though. 

Another study by Brigham Young University in Utah from 2010 found that social ties are increasingly important to extending life, proving that people with lots of close friends and family around are likely to live longer than those that are alone.

Similarly, a report by the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) at University College, London (UCL), claimed that over-50s who experience feelings of satisfaction about their life are more likely to live to an older age.

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