To stay healthy as we age, large social networks trump close-knit ones
The Washington Post - 09/12/2016
Living among a tight-knit group of close relatives is best for our health as we age, right? Actually, in many cases, the opposite is true.
Social isolation and loneliness have long been associated with poor health and worse outcomes, on par with smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and inactivity. But being ensconced in too tight a family network may not be optimal, either. For someone experiencing a health crisis, it’s better to have more weak ties to people who don’t know each other, according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature.
“We’re finding if you’ve got a lot of weak ties or lack of connections (between acquaintances), that actually affords you an advantage,” said Amar Dhand, the paper’s lead author and an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University.