As Dr. T.P. Chia says, “Parental love is the only love that is truly selfless, unconditional and forgiving.” You may consider yourself extremely fortunate if you grew up with two parental figures, or even one. Did your parents provide their very best care for you? Were they a constant support system that encouraged you and insisted that you can achieve the impossible? Whether your parents have passed on or still living, the time you have spent with them is valuable. According to research, the more time you devote to seeing and spending time with your parents, the longer they will live.
The “Loneliness in Older Persons” study, published in 2012, studied 1,600 adults with an average age of 71. The results concluded that among participants who were older than 60 years old, loneliness was a predictor of decline and premature death. This study also concluded that loneliness can lead to depression, cognitive impairment, and coronary artery disease.
Another study in 2010, by Brigham Young University in Utah, found that social ties are crucial to extending one’s lifespan, proving that social interaction is crucial in reducing feelings of isolation. To further justify this research’s results, Harvard Medical School conducted a study in 2015 featuring a similar conclusion; the key to healthy aging is relationships.
Essentially, a portion of the power is in your hands to increase the longevity of your parents’ lives. Of course, the importance is not placed onto what you do together, but the fact that you are spending time together. The following are simple ideas to alter the scenery for when you visit your parent/parents:
- Visit them in their home. If they live by themselves, consider baking them goods to bring over, or buying the newspaper for them. It’s healthy to have your parents looking forward to something new each day, no matter how small the surprise may be. It also keeps them in touch with the outside world, if they aren’t able to leave their home often.
- If their physical health permits, try a new bakery or restaurant. The idea is to pick a place where you can speak to one another, within a new environment.
- Maybe your mother enjoys bingo. Or your father finds a chess game to be exciting. Engaging in a game is a distraction for themselves, and provides them the outlet to keep on thinking strategically.
- Rent one of their favorite films, and relish in the following moments. Cooking their favorite meal for after the movie can be a great way to talk about the movie over food.
You’ll one day be in their shoes. Do what’s best for them.