A new study has revealed that Parenthood, (that is, having children) can increase the life expectancy of individuals, especially at old age.
According to the research conducted at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, parents aged 60 may live up to two years longer than their counterparts without children. This, they believe, could be due to social support from adult children to their aging parents.
At such old age, couples with aging parents may enjoy stress free times and emotional support from their caring children.
Procedures for the research on longevity of parenthood
The research team on parenthood used national registry data to analyse the lifespans of more than 1.4 million elderly men and women in relation to their marital status and whether they had children. They discovered that the risk of death was lower in people with at least one child – an effect more pronounced in men than women.
Influencing factors such as education were also considered and results showed the difference in death risk did increase with age between parents and non-parents. According to Dr. Karin Modig who led the research, he said:
“Children can provide support in navigating the healthcare system, how to take medication, providing emotional support.
“Our finding that the association grew strong when parents became older is further in agreement with research suggesting that childless people face support deficits only towards the end of life.”
For instance, 60-year old men with children could expect to live for another 20.2 years, whereas men without children could expect a further 18.4 years. While women aged 60 with children could expect to live a further 24.6 years, whereas those without could expect another 23.1 years.
A similar study conducted in 2012 at the University of California in San Francisco looked at 1,600 adults with an average age of 71. They found that nearly 23% of participants who were considered lonely died within six years of the study. This is compared to only 14% of those who were reported to have companions.
Statements from the documented research noted that “the concept of loneliness is only starting to be recognised as a separate entity from social isolation and depression, and therefore few studies have examined it as an independent risk factor.”
Rough estimation by researchers also showed that distances to the children by elderly parents as well as their sex surprisingly didn’t have much effect.