As a member of a highly connected family, I am glad you started this session. The traditional family you described is the foundation of our society, at least in a biological and religious sense. But, at the same time, we witness families falling apart, dysfunctional marriages, or siblings full of hate to each other. Things do not always work out perfectly and that is ok. But how beneficial is it to have a disintegrated family in comparison to not have a family at all? Is there something else responsible for our happiness and longer life?
The study showed that loneliness could lead to functional decline, cognitive impairment, and even coronary diseases in older people, leading to premature death. Comparatively, accompanied people lived a statistically longer life . Other researchers stated, based on the extremely old population of Sardinia, Italy, that highly sociable people and connected families, together with physical activity, are responsible for their longevity . Few other studies confirmed the same . So yes, families could give a significant contribution to our longevity. But, what makes it interesting is the fact that 43 % of people over the age of 60 feel the lack of companionship – and they usually have families, too.
I see it this way. The psychological impact of longevity could be both, devastating or incredibly uplifting, which I discussed in the other session . The character and the society will be the ones to determine the outcome. Sociable people, compared to asocial ones, will always find it easier to be accompanied. But if we consider that, at the moment, almost half of the 60+ people feel isolated and alone, it can't get much worse. The lack of familiar faces and emotions are already taking high tolls. Families fall apart and older people sooner or later become a burden for their kids.
If the future can bring bigger families, more friendship opportunities, more kids, easier and more realistic virtual connection, longer healthspans, easier medical prevention, and treatments of illnesses, it could turn things beneficial for everyone. Asocial people would find it easier to date, contribute, and be a part of some society. Families would find new ways to feel connected, even when far apart. Care for older family members could become unnecessary or much easier, resulting in more time spent together and happier relations between parents and their children.
It's just my perspective. Happy families will always be alike, and the unhappy ones will always be unhappy in their way. But to give care (and live longer?), you just need a companion you care about. Can it be that easy?