Loving Your Parents More Can Help Them Live Longer, According to Science

filial piety

Scientists have found that love and respect from children can help parents live longer.

A recent study published in Aging & Mental Health has established a correlation between mortality risk in elderly Chinese Americans and aspects of filial piety, the Chinese virtue of respect for one’s parents and elders.

Researchers conducted a study of 3,021 Chinese Americans in Chicago with an average age of 73. Each participant has at least one child, UPI reports. 

Based on the research findings, parents who felt their children listened to them or showed appropriate gratitude had a lower mortality risk. Meanwhile, the parents who did not experience such filial respect exhibited a higher mortality risk.

“Strong intergenerational relationships play a protective role in the health and well-being of the aging population,” Mengting Li, a researcher at Rutgers University and study lead author was quoted as saying. “Family solidarity is especially vital to the Chinese American immigrant population, who tend to rely more heavily on their families due to traditional filial piety values.”

Adhered to in Chinese culture for hundreds of years, the concept of filial piety requires Chinese elderly people to receive care, respect, gratitude, happiness, obedience and financial support from their children. The researchers, however, pointed out that the happiness, obedience and financial support aspects of filial piety had no impact on their death risk.

According to the research team, it is important for children of elderly parents to learn more about and adhere to the traditions of filial piety. Cultural sensitivity when caring for older Chinese-Americans through social service organizations is suggested to curb the death risk.

“Although further qualitative study is necessary to understand the filial discrepancy experience comprehensively and to explore the mechanism through which filial discrepancy affects the mortality risk of older immigrants, the study has important practical implications for social and health care services and policies focused on older Chinese American adults,” Li noted.

Featured Image via YouTube / A24

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