This devastating study is why we need to talk to humans every single day 60



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We know how important it is for our community to stay connected and in touch with others, but a new study shows just how vital actual human contact is, and how a lack of it really takes its toll.

According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, older adults who have little face-to-face contact with family and friends are at almost twice the risk of developing depression.

And contrary to popular belief, regular contact with others over the telephone or through email does not make up for the lack of face-to-face interaction, or offset the risk of 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,” notes lead author Dr. Alan Teo, assistant professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University.

“We found that all forms of socialisation aren’t equal.

“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”.

A lack of social interaction can be a key contributor to depression among seniors and can even lead to premature death, according to one study.

Dr Teo and colleagues analysed 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 researchers studied how often participants spoke with family and friends, via four modes of contact: in person, telephone, letter and email.

The results revealed that older adults did not see their family and friends were at almost double the risk for depression; 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.

And no matter how frequent of phone calls, letters or email contact, it did not impact a participants’ risk for depression.


How often do you speak to someone face-to-face?


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. our family members seem too busy with their own lives to come and visit. The sad thing is that when they have more time on their hands we will be gone.

    2 REPLY
    • Exactly. I don’t hear from mine because I live interstate. That shouldn’t stop them as I have a home phone and mobile. My daughter near me says “they’ll be here quickly once you’re gone.”

  2. I know thay personally from people i had in nursing home they only time they will come out of the wood work is many it too late and claim their inheritance thats maybe why some old people have depression

  3. I very rarely have much contact with anyone but my dog. I speak to my daughter by phone, and the test of my family, never. If I go to the doctors or shopping I chat to the odd person. My son chose not to speak to me, the other one overseas has never called me and I could never please the family I have in Tas so I stopped trying. I have friends I see if they come down this way and my four days in Melbourne was full of fun with friends and a night with a brother. Sometimes social media is,a life saver. When it gets a little tough I go to the museum or the movies or grab the young man next door for a chat.

    7 REPLY
    • Sadly,I would have called you a whinger once , but I get it now!….I can so relate to what you have said, this has become my life as well.

    • Debbie Ward Wonderful to read your offer to Fran Debbie, I hope you two catch up, I made friends with two lovely ladies through a workshop I went to & we dont live in each other pocktets we do a catch up coffee & a chat every few weeks, I dont see them in between but we look at each others posts on fb. when we have catch up coffee we pick a different place each time & we have things to talk about as there is space in between. I was really taken with your offer to Fran ..

  4. No I dont agree. Tomorrow, rest assured, there will be another study stating the opposite. It depends on the individual. Some of us are introverts, we recharge during our alone times and I maintain my mental health by taking time out from the world when I need to.
    This may be true for extroverts but not everybody.

    3 REPLY
    • I think I am a mixture of both. I enjoy my alone time because as you say I recharge my batteries. But I also enjoy my craft group meetings and my volunteering. I guess everyone is different.

    • I have never considered whether I’m an intro or extro. Rarely see my daughters, son probably see him fortnightly, so I’ve made some wonderful friends and a day doesn’t go by without me having face to face contact with at least one person. I dont think we can rely on our children to see us, so it is up to us to get out there and make friends. Some people need face to face contact with others – some dont. We are all different.

  5. It is extremely important to get out into the world. I visit an elderly Aunt (she is 91) as much as I can. I know she looks forward to my visits as her immediate family live far away. She is no longer very mobile so I think I am her only contact with outside world. She has home help but as she tells me that is not the same. We sit and talk about the old days or as far back as I can remember. That is the sad thing she has outlived most of her friends. This article has reminded me to make the effort to visit her more often.

    2 REPLY
    • What a fantastic thing for you both. Think of all the stories can get talking to someone a lot older than yourself. I wished I’d asked my grandmother more questions as she would have been 120yrs now.

    • Debbie Ward It can be amusing sometimes. When she starts talking about the war she assumes that I was there.

  6. i do agree but for me personally I love the solitude if its bad for my health, so be it. Its ny choice.

  7. Yes we do Libbi. As soon as I am able I will finish my course and if my back resolves itself this week I am off to check out this chi, so that should give me people to talk to. So many kids think once they are adult age that we no longer matter which makes me wonder where the natural instinct is to love unconditionally like we love them.

    2 REPLY
    • oh I agree I have dramas with my son so I can totally relate, he rang me this week to ask my advice about a job, he is management and was head hunted by a large company. Everything I said, he told me I was wrong lol In the end I said why did you bother ringing me !! he said I wanted your advice haha..well no son I don’t know what you wanted but it wasn’t my advice hahah

    • haha Libby, sounds like my grown up son. If I ask him anything…I’m being negative….don’t ask and don’t hear from him now. Just know he’s alive through FBk…Kids…who’d have them…lol

  8. I enjoy my social times, I am not a recluse. I just dont do people everyday and believe I am mentally very happy and healthy. Yep I have depressive hits but they pass relatively quickly because I am able to spend the time alone I need.

    2 REPLY
    • I am the same, love people but value my time at home. Enjoy a day like today playing on the computer, will get out in the garden soon. I am supposed to be washing the floors actually

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