Living

Love thy neighbour is pretty good health advice, says study

f you watch the HGTV series House Hunters as much as I do than it’s pretty clear what most people want in a home anymore. That list boils down to a smattering of predictably trendy décor choices: hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, double sinks in the bathrooms, and whatever the heck a “man cave” means.

Masterfile

If you watch the HGTV series House Hunters as much as I do than it’s pretty clear what most people want in a home anymore. That list boils down to a smattering of predictably trendy décor choices: hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, double sinks in the bathrooms, and whatever the heck a “man cave” means.   

But maybe prospective buyers should add something else to their checklist of must-haves. That must-have: good neighbours. Here’s why: According to a recent study (via Women’s Health Matters) living in a friendly supportive neighbourhood may decrease your risk of dying of stroke by nearly half. Considering that stroke is one of the leading causes of mortality in Canada it seems pretty good motivation for putting a strong community above say, hardwood flooring.

The study, done by researchers from the University of Minnesota, surveyed nearly 6,000 seniors and asked them a series of questions about their neighbourhood. Questions focused on social relations, i.e., how often people engaged with their neighbours and if they felt able to ask for assistance from a neighbour, etc. 

The researchers then followed up with the participants over the next decade. In that time, some died as a result of stroke, while others had strokes and survived. While the study result confirmed that anyone can have a stroke anywhere, sadly; the survival rate told a different story. In fact, risk of death from stroke was 53 per cent less in sociable neighbourhoods than in less supportive communities. 

What accounts for the significant difference? The study doesn’t say, but some believe that the tighter the social bonds in a community the less chance there is that one of its residents will fall through the cracks and not get proper attention and care.  

A good neighbour may be harder to find than granite countertops, but clearly it’s worth the search. Even more: it’s probably a good idea to aim to be a good neighbour yourself.