Knowing Your Neighbors Could Save Your Life

Whether you live in a small town or a bustling city, knowing your neighbors and being able to count on them not only makes your day more pleasant but could help you survive a stroke, a new study says.

Research conducted at the University of Minnesota shows that seniors who have regular conversations with their neighbors and can depend on them, have much better odds of surviving a stroke than those who live in neighborhoods where there's less interaction, or none at all. The study was published on line in the journal Stroke.

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The research looked at the data on 5,789 seniors in Chicago. Over the course of eleven years of the study, the investigators identified 186 stroke deaths and 701 first strokes.

Seniors were asked about social interactions and signs of friendliness in their neighborhoods. They were also asked how many neighbors they knew by name and whether they could call on them for help for some small errands.

The results showed that each point higher on a scale of neighborhood friendliness substantially increased the chance of survival after a stroke. The findings remained significant even after taking into account factors such as socioeconomic status and cardiovascular risks like high blood pressure, smoking, physical inactivity, diabetes and obesity.

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How can you cultivate a closer relationship with your neighbors? Here are some tips:

--Welcome a new neighbor with an introductory note or chat.
--Maintain the area around your home it so it's neat and attractive.
--Be conscientious about noise that might disturb your neighbors, such as vacuum cleaners, loud television or a barking dog.
--Return anything that you borrow from your neighbor, such as appliances, as soon as possible. Express your gratitude when you do so.
--Respect your neighbor's privacy.
--If you can do it, offer to collect mail, water plants and watch the pets while your neighbors are away on a short trip.
--Learn from neighbors with cultural backgrounds different from your own.
--Invite your neighbor over for a leisurely cup of coffee to discuss any problems you may have, or to share good news.


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