Everyone has a different relationship with their parents. Some closer some more distant. We are all very busy with our jobs, children, housework, friends, hobbies, travel, and the list goes on. We might be located very far from our parents which makes seeing them in person a challenging endeavor. Should we make the effort of staying connected to our parents? Why? Let’s go in depth and reveal some of the benefits of keeping in touch on a regular basis.
Social connection increases longevity
According to this study in Scientific American, social ties boost survival by 50% percent. And by the study’s numbers, interpersonal social networks are more crucial to physical health than exercising or beating obesity. This applies to both young and old. The elderly however, due to decreased autonomy, have a harder time establishing personal relationships. We need to be proactive in keeping contact with them.
Seniors face increasing solitude as family moves out and friends pass away. At the same time, they usually fight for their independence and do not want to move to a retirement home. They prefer to live in the house their own ancestors built or where they raised their children. Many objects surrounding them have sentimental value they do not want to get rid of. Here are some other good reasons they should keep living at home for as long as possible.
A strong relationship with family decreases depression
Many studies proofed that poor quality of relationship with spouse/partner and family each independently increased risk of depression. The quality of social relationships is a major risk factor for major depression.
Being included in our daily lives is essential for seniors to feel important. Especially for those living far away. It may be challenging to keep a tight relationship over long distance. Yet there are ways. We can include them in family functions such as meals or special events. An easy way to fight the distance and include them in our lives is through a mobile device such as smartphone or tablet. Just set up an app such as Oscar Senior for them and start a video call in a matter of minutes.
John, retired, from Maryland says, “My son bought my wife and I a tablet. The other day he called me up on it, just like a telephone. I answered and I could see him on video, along with my grandkids. They surprised us. I haven’t seen them for months now. They live in Southern California so we don’t get to do frequent visits. The kids have grown!”
Anxiety levels are lower for seniors who have help at arms reach
Living alone can also make the elderly more anxious. About their health, about the future, and also about family who they do not see often. If they know they can reach you if anything should happen, they will feel safe and secure in the comfort of their home.
Keeping a phone or tablet by their side is the best way to give them a sense of security. Equally important is to regularly check up on them. Especially for housebound seniors who may not be in contact with anyone outside their home.
According to a Pew Research Group report, smartphone adoption drops off considerably among adults in their mid-70s and beyond. Some 31% of 75- to 79-year-olds say they own smartphones, while only 17% of those ages 80 and older are smartphone owners. Due to heightened isolation and loneliness in older age, we should encourage these numbers to grow.
Maintaining regular contact fights dementia
Dementia is unfortunately, a very common ailment in old age. Someone in the world develops dementia every three seconds, according to statistics published on Alzheimer’s Disease International. You can find more extensive information on the global impact of dementia in this infographic. We, as the younger generation, play an important role in the prevention and slowing down of the disease.
Fiona, a young mother from Arizona, says, “My mother has been diagnosed with dementia a few years ago. However, thankfully she is still able to live at home and care for herself. We talk almost every day on the phone, video call each other weekly, and I try to drive up to her house twice a month. She is very important in my life and I want to show her. I am sure that she is still active despite her diagnosis because we have maintained a strong relationship.”
We will learn something, too
Our elderly parents may be newbies in technology, but they have lived a full, rich life which is packed with lessons for you. Take a moment to ask questions you have never asked before. Mom or Dad may have anecdotes they haven’t told yet. They may share bits of wisdom you can store in your memory. Also, they might tell you stories of overcoming failure that you can draw strength from in your own struggles. You can also jot down the experiences they had from their own childhood and before you were born, and keep it as a family heirloom. Certainly they’ll enjoy recollecting old memories. It keeps their minds young and helps us learn more about them and where we come from.
Our busy schedules may keep us from talking to our elderly parents regularly. But we should take a moment and consider all the benefits we can draw from a close and healthy relationship. With a simple device and an app they too, can reach us when they need to. The health benefits are innumerable. And they will thank you for the effort you put in to including them in your life.