LOS ANGELES, CA - Has it been awhile since you talked to your siblings or are they your very best friends? We know that social ties are important for older folks when it comes to living a long time, but a new study presented at the American Sociological Association suggests that it really matters exactly who those close to you are.
In a survey of volunteers aged 57 to 83, sociologists from The University of Toronto and The University of Chicago found that people who counted more family members in their social networks were less likely to die. Having lots of close friends, instead of relatives,didn't seem to have an impact.
The researchers were pretty surprised by the findings. They thought that by picking those relationships, we could cater them to our specific needs, but the data didn't back that up at all. The author of the study James Iveniuk said, "It is the people who in some sense you cannot choose, and who also have little choice about choosing you, who seem to provide the greatest benefit to longevity."
The researchers theorize that it's because family has some control over aspects of our health. And while family can be frustrating, their support isn't dependent on the emotional aspects of the relationship. They'll love you, even if they don't always like you. Looks like it's time to give them a call. In the long run, it'll do us all some good.