Having a close friend may be more important in the life of a senior citizen than they realize.
A new study from the University of Chicago has found older people who experience loneliness have an increased risk of greater health problems when compared to those who have relationships.
Researchers studied the connection between relationships and two different types of isolation: the degree seniors are socially connected and how lonely they feel.
Approximately 3,000 people aged 57 to 85 were interviewed for the study between 2005 and 2006.
"Social disconnectedness is associated with worse physical health, regardless of whether it prompts feelings of loneliness or a perceived lack of social support," said Linda Waite, who co-authored the study.
Waite said poor mental health can lead to a reduction of seniors' will to exercise and may increase cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse.
The older adults who reportedly felt the least isolated were five times as likely to report being in very good or excellent health, according to the study.
Separate research has shown that a person with a positive outlook on life can benefit their general health in a positive way.