The bonds between friends get much stronger with age, and eventually, they can even outweigh the benefits of family relationships, according to a new study.
Friendships play a key role in health and happiness – especially as we get older, revealed dual studies involving thousands of participants around the world.
These relationships can 'make a world of difference,' researchers say, and even affect how we respond to illness.
The research from Michigan State University included two studies: one on relationships and self-rated health and happiness, and another on relationship support/strain and chronic illness.
In the first study, the researcher analyzed the responses of 271,053 in a survey encompassing all ages, and people from nearly 100 countries.
Overall, this revealed that both family and friend relationships are tied to higher self-rated levels of health and happiness.
But, as age increased, the researchers found that friendships were more influential than family when it comes to predicting these states.
'Friendships become even more important as we age,' said William Chopik, assistant professor of psychology.
'Keeping a few really good friends around can make a world of difference for our health and well-being. So it's smart to invest in the friendship that make you happiest.'
In the second study, the researcher analyzed data from a survey of 7,481 adults in the United States. And, this found that friendships played an important role in how older adults feel.
For adults who had friends that often tended to be a source of strain, the researchers noted these people reported more chronic illnesses.