By Dr. Brian McDonough

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – What is the role of companionship as far as our health is concerned?

According to several major studies having companionship can help us at any age. Whether the companion is a person or a pet, there are crucial advantages to having a connection of some sort.

The studies get interesting when it comes to marriage. For males the studies are extremely consistent. Men do much better and have a longer life span when they are married. For women the results are a bit different. Depending on the study there is a slight health advantage or a disadvantage for a woman to be married. But before you become despondent over the news there is a definite consistent value to have close friends and companions.

One of the biggest advantages is communication. We are learning that seniors do better in group settings and communities. This is better from a sense of happiness as well as intellectual stimulation.

As for pets, it does not matter if the pet is a dog, cat or some exotic animal. The companionship is a source of happiness.

Reported By Dr. Brian McDonough, KYW Newsradio Medical Editor