Thursday, June 08, 2017

Friendship holds more power than family as people age

According to William Chopik, assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State, a pair of studies, involving 280,000 people, show that not only do friendships become increasingly important over time, but in older adults, they can be a strong predictor of health and happiness--sometimes stronger than family ties.

In the first study, Chopik surveyed info about relationships reported by 271,053 participants in nearly 100 countries.  The second study looked at data from another survey about relationship support/strain and chronic illness--in 7,481 older adult in the US alone.

In the first, both family and friends were linked to better health and happiness overall, but only friendships predicted health and happiness ad advanced ages.

Why?

--Chopik thinks it may be because we can choose our friends and keep the ones we like and lose the rest over time. Friends also support those without spouses or supportive family members.

--Families can be enjoyable, but also can develop serious, negative and monotonous overtones.

Speaking personally, I have always valued my friendships, some of which are more than 50 years in duration. But I have also "lost" friends, who changed over time (or I did) or seemed to not be the people I thought they were. Recently I friend of 25 years stabbed me in the back. Didn't see that coming.

I have half a dozen people I want in my life and am in contact with every week or more.

Family members? Fewer.

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