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Thread: Having Children Increases Longevity for Parents

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    Having Children Increases Longevity for Parents

    Payback time? Influence of having children on mortality in old age


    It is known that parents have lower mortality than childless individuals. Support from adult children to ageing parents may be of importance for parental health and longevity. The aim of this study was to estimate the association between having a child and the risk of death, and to examine whether the association increased at older ages when health starts to deteriorate and the need of support from a family member increases.

    In this nationwide study, all men and women (born between 1911 and 1925 and residing in Sweden), as well as their children, were identified in population registers and followed over time. Age-specific death risks were calculated for each calendar year for individuals having at least one child and for individuals without children. Adjusted risk differences and risk ratios were estimated.

    Men and women having at least one child experienced lower death risks than childless men and women. At 60 years of age, the difference in life expectancy was 2 years for men and 1.5 years for women. The absolute differences in death risks increased with parents' age and were somewhat larger for men than for women. The association persisted when the potential confounding effect of having a partner was taken into account. The gender of the child did not matter for the association between parenthood and mortality.

    Having children is associated with increased longevity, particularly in an absolute sense in old age. That the association increased with parents' age and was somewhat stronger for the non-married may suggest that social support is a possible explanation.
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    I certainly believe this is true. Both of my grandmothers certainly needed some help at the end, I don't know how they would have survived if not for their children's and my help. I mean this very literally, in the first case after my grandma had a stroke, her son's wife found that she wouldn't answer the door and called 911. The paramedics were able to break in and get her out. What would've happened to her?

    She stayed with my parents and I during recovery because she was unable to perform basic tasks like cooking or even using a microwave. She had forgotten how. How would she have eaten? I do think it is thanks to her family that she was able to make a full recovery from two strokes, since we got her to the hospital in time which never would've happened if she had been alone.

    After my grandmother had her first stroke, she didn't recognize anyone except for me, and that got her into my heart and I helped care for her after that until she died. There were times when I resented it, but as a whole, I'm really glad I was able to be of some use to someone.

    As her eyesight started to fail, she needed help at the grocery store, and she needed help doing the more physically demanding tasks like bathing, shopping, laundry, housework, etc. because she would get so tired. Experiencing this first hand, I know there was so much we all did for her that she couldn't do herself.

    With my dad's mom, she developed lung disease and it was the same story, except we were too far away to do much for her except come by on the weekends, but her two daughters basically took turns staying with her to handle the household and doing her shopping for her for about a year. Without them she would've probably wasted away after she could physically no longer go out and do things.

    Here in the USA, there's not very good affordable or reliable care for the elderly, and I hear it's the same in many other countries as well. That would change if it were up to me. The elderly should have access to the exact level of nursing/therapeutical care they need, money from the government that's enough to sustain them, travelling doctors, barbers and religious leaders, and food, laundry and pharmaceutical delivery services. Or, if they wish for a way out of their suffering, a way to terminate.

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