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Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
Date:4/15/2010

Strong social network bodes well for golden years, study finds

THURSDAY, April 15 (HealthDay News) -- It's said that one of the joys of old age is taking pleasure in your grandchildren, but an English research team begs to differ.

An active social life, being married and having a partner who is also retired all make a huge difference in seniors' enjoyment of life, but having children or grandchildren matters little, the University of Greenwich team found in its study of 279 British retirees.

Grandchildren are a source of pride, but there are trade-offs to having them, said lead researcher Oliver Robinson, of the university's department of psychology and counseling.

"There are both benefits and drawbacks to the presence of children and grandchildren in retirement, which balance each other out," Robinson said. "The positives are that having children and grandchildren imparts a sense of purpose and meaning, while the drawback is the frequent commitment for child care that can potentially interfere with the sense of freedom and autonomy that is at the heart of a positive retirement."

Robinson and his team were to report their findings Thursday at the annual conference of the British Psychological Society in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Study participants, who were recruited from a retirement Web site and online newsletter, answered questions about family, friends and their life in retirement. They also completed a scale designed to measure their satisfaction with their lives.

The researchers found no difference in life satisfaction between retirees who have children and grandchildren and those who don't.

But a strong social network tended to have a major positive effect on retirees' enjoyment of life. Seniors with high levels of life satisfaction strongly agreed with the statement, "I have active social groups I enjoy spending time with." Conversely, seniors who aren't enjoying life muc
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