Study: People who are not visited by family members are more likely to die earlier

Everyone should visit family and friends at least once a month to prevent loneliness and reduce the risk of dying earlier, according to a study.

Academics at the University of Glasgow have estimated that not seeing loved ones at least once a month and living alone significantly increases people's risk of death.

The study authors used data from adults in Great Britain, aged 57, and observed their social relationships. They found that any form of social isolation, such as living alone, feeling lonely, or infrequent visits from family and friends, was associated with a higher risk of death, the Guardian wrote. 

People who were never visited by family and friends had a 53% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and a 39% higher risk of death compared to those who were visited daily. Those who lived alone were 48% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease, while not being able to rely on someone or participate in activities increased the risk of mortality.

Those who experienced more than one form of social isolation were at even greater risk. People who lived alone and never saw family or friends had a 77% higher risk of dying from any cause, and an even higher risk of dying from heart disease or stroke, compared to those who lived with someone who saw friends daily family, the study found.

But even visiting once a month can reduce the risk, the researchers concluded. The study found that people who visited at least once a month had a significantly lower risk of death.

"The risk seems to be among people who are very isolated, and never see family or friends or see them less than once a month," said Jason Gill, author of the study.

"Making sure you visit your relatives who are lonely and isolated is a super helpful thing to do because it seems to be important for people to have a visit at least once a month."

The study did not address why social isolation and loneliness increase the risk of death, but its lead author, Hamish Foster, offered some possibilities.

"It may be that people who are more socially isolated may have more unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking or drinking, for example," he said.

Foster added that the reason may also be that you don't have someone to help you go to the doctor or to encourage you to seek help when you need it.