Nearly a quarter of adults — 22 percent — with at least one grandparent with whom they do not live say they keep in touch at least weekly, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Meanwhile, 36 percent of adults say they keep in touch with grandparents at least monthly. About the same number — 35 percent — are in touch less often than monthly.

Reaching out to older adults in your family is important because those who lack social support or are frequently lonely tend to experience higher rates of sickness, mortality, infection, depression and cognitive decline. In one 2010 study, researchers found that the increased risk of death caused by loneliness is comparable to well-known dangers such as smoking, and it’s worse than other risk factors such as obesity.

People have to find the right form of communication for them. Most often, grandchildren use the phone to connect with their grandparents. Pew found 92 percent of people who talk with their grandparents at least monthly say they use the phone.

But grandparents and grandchildren are also using new technology. One-in-five among those who reach out at least monthly are texting their grandparents. One-in-six (16 percent) rely on social media, and 12 percent say they keep in touch with their grandparents via email.

Interesting note: The same percentage of people email as hand-write letters.

This video below isn’t about calling grandparents (a woman surprises her parents with a birth announcement). But I have to share it because the soon-to-be grandmother’s reaction is pretty fabulous. Looks like she’ll want plenty of communication as the baby grows up.

Erin Rhoda

Erin Rhoda is the editor of Maine Focus, a team that conducts journalism investigations and projects at the Bangor Daily News. She also writes for the newspaper, often centering her work on issues of sexual...