When was the last time you paid your grandparents or older relatives a visit? Have you ever considered how important spending time with that person might be? You probably think your visit maybe like any other and insignificant. You might even think the exchange could have been compressed in a phone call, but could that brief interaction be making a drastic difference in your loved one’s mental health?
A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society has observed that adults over the age of 50, who have little fact to face contact with family and friends, are at twice the risk of developing depression. Even more shocking, the study found that regular contact with others over the telephone or through email does not offset the risk of depression associated with lack of in-person contact.
The researchers looked at how often participants interacted with family and friends through four different avenues of social contact: in person, telephone, letter and email. Symptoms of depression among participants were assessed 2 years later. The team analyzed data of 11,065 adults aged 50 and older who were part of the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Survey between 2004 and 2010.
The results revealed that older adults who had very little in-person contact with their family and friends were at almost double the risk for depression 2 years later; 6.5% of participants who had face-to-face contact at least three times weekly had symptoms of depression, compared with 11.5% who had in-person contact only once every few months or less.
“We found that all forms of socialization aren’t equal,” notes lead author Dr. Alan Teo, assistant professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University. “Phone calls and digital communication, with friends or family members, do not have the same power as face-to-face social interactions in helping to stave off depression. Research has long supported the idea that strong social bonds strengthen people’s mental health. But this is the first look at the role that the type of communication with loved ones and friends plays in safeguarding people from depression.”, he added.
Why is visiting your older loved one important? Past research suggests lack of social interaction can be a key contributor to depression among seniors and can even lead to premature death. So when its possible, visit your loved one face to face and remind them of how important they are to you.
Written by Charlie Marquez
Sourced from Medical New Today