If you step on a crack, you’ll break your mother’s back; and according to a study conducted in 2012, if you don’t show for family dinner, you’ll cut Mom’s life expectancy by at least nine percent.
The study correlated loneliness with an increased risk of death. Of the 1,600 adults studied, 26 percent of the adults who identified as lonely passed away within six years of the study’s onset, compared to only 14 percent of those who experienced companionship.
The study limited its participants to persons over 60 years old. That doesn’t mean you should wait until she’s 60 to give her a call, though (but we hope you already knew that). Loneliness is cumulative, and lack of communication is cumulative, too — meaning the farther you go down that silent road, the harder it becomes to reverse.
Elderly adults also get better at cultivating relationships as they age. Perhaps this quirk, which seems endearingly trivial, is really more of a survival mechanism — as people age into their retirement, it’s likely they experience a lessening of mobility, fewer social situations, and more time spent at home. This is a completely natural part of aging, but one that’s important to make moves to counteract.
Rosemary Blieszner, a professor of human development at Virginia Tech, explained to The New York Times that elderly persons are “pretty tolerant of friends’ imperfections and idiosyncrasies, more than young adults.”
“You bring a lot more experience to your friendships when you're older,” Blieszner said. “You know what's worth fighting about and not worth fighting about.”
The same is true for Mom. While it’s common for mothers and their children to quibble, setting differences aside might get easier as both parties age — and as the relationship becomes more vital.
She’s not the only one who benefits when you increase the quality time spent with your mom. You undoubtedly benefit, as well. Relationships, especially familial ones, are often symbiotic and supportive. Just having someone to call, share a meal with, or snuggle with during a corny movie can make all the difference to your mental health — especially when that person has known you quite literally since you were born.
You might even learn a thing or two through all that talking. So far as we can tell, moms can be pretty impressively influential.