How to Live Longer

This one eye popping chart is worth a thousands insights and might just change your social attitude. How to live longer involves so many complex variables that it makes us thirsty for simplicity. I am a big believer in the value of social networks for their support and sustainability in all stages of life. If your are single in retirement, I have mentioned that a solid social network of reliable and caring people can give you quality of life and happiness in your final years, even without a romantic relationship.

But, I also mention that having a partner in later life is vitally important since it often becomes our primary social and emotional support. Partnership stimulates our life involvement and longevity. So, can we have it both ways? Let’s take a look at the chart above.

If the colors are hard to see in the chart(1), the first bar is women, second is men, and the third is one person in a couple.  It’s clear that longevity follows a pattern. Single men go first, then single women, while being a couple is the best longevity. Does this mean we should rush out and get involved even if we are comfortable being single? Not necessarily, because what this chart does not tell us is that the quality of any relationship is the key.

The depth of emotional involvement in your relationship tends to determine your benefit. So, if you already have a supportive network of involved friends, you don’t want to change that. Likewise, if you have a supportive romantic relationship, of course, you don’t want to change that. But, what the chart does not tell us is how many of the couples had both. I believe it’s this combined effect of both your network and a romantic relationship that is the greatest longevity benefit. So, what can we do to live longer:

1.  Maintain a supportive and caring social network of friends
2.  Keep positive relationships with family as much as possible
3.  Be open to a romantic relationship if you are single
4.  Expand your network if you are a couple
5.  Always make your health a top priority

We know this is not the only way to increase your longevity, but the chart convinces us of its importance. Future studies will help us prioritize those factors that are most important for extending life. But, in the end, it’s no surprise that people live for other people.             L.J.

(1)Eric McWhinnie, (3-15-2015) Reatirement Reality: 7 ChartsYou Need to see. Retrieved on 3-20-2015 from: from J.P. Morgan)

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