For example, one study looked at mortality status in elderly married couples over a five year period. Of the sample of 846 people, 134 had died over the course of five years. The researchers found that those who reported giving support to others had a reduced risk of mortality. This finding held true whether the person had given instrumental help to neighbours, friends or relatives or emotional support to a spouse. The researchers also controlled for various other variables such as demographics, health, mental health, and marital-relationships. Receiving support had no effect on mortality once giving support had been taken into consideration.
Further research has supported this finding. For example, another study, carried out with a large diverse sample of older people, found that both giving to relatives and non relatives was associated with improved health and lower mortality, whereas levels of receiving were not. This research provides an important contribution to our understanding of the nature of giving. It points to our basic need to give to others. It also highlights the importance of how we think about and interact with others, in this case older people, and the effect that this can have on their health and well-being.