Obligatory visits to Grandma’s house may be doing more than just easing a sense of guilt.

A study from the University of California, San Francisco, shows a link between the social interactions of elderly people and their life expectancy.

More than 1,600 seniors, aged 60 and older, were monitored for six years, giving researchers insight to major health risks causing functional decline and death. In a series of three-question response opportunities, participants were asked if they feel left out, feel isolated, or lack companionship.

Data from the Health and Retirement Study performed by the National Institute on Aging was analyzed to show that only 18 percent of participants lived alone, but 43 percent reported feeling lonely.

Loneliness affected measures of mobility with tasks having to do with climbing stairs, mobility, and use of upper extremities.

Nearly 23 percent of participants who discussed their own loneliness died during the six-year study. Only 14 percent of participants who noted strong relationships in their lives died in the given time frame.

Other contributing factors were their living situation, depression, other medical conditions and socioeconomic status.