Seniors who meet in person relatives and friends are less likely to suffer depression than those who communicate with them via email or phone, shows a new study.
The benefits of these interactions in person continue to be felt even years later, the researchers add.
Scientists at the Oregon Health & Science University explained that the study, although it has long been known that strong social ties enhance mental health, is the first to be interested in the impact the type of communication with relatives and friends.
This allowed them to see that all forms of socialization are not equal. The author of the study, Dr. Alan Teo, explained that telephone or electronic communication is not as powerful as the interactions in person, when it comes time to fight depression.
These conclusions based on a review of more than 11,000 adults aged 50 and over.
The researchers found that low interactions in person almost double the risk of depression after two years. The number of telephone conversations or written communications had no impact on that risk.
However, subjects who met relatives and friends in person at least three times a week had the lowest rates of depressive symptoms after two years.
Participants aged 50-69 years seemed to especially benefit from meetings with friends, while those aged 70 and over had especially need to meet with their children and other relatives.
The findings of this study are published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.