LONDON, ONT. -- It could be as simple as a call to and older family member or friend, that researchers say can make a world of difference when it comes to their mental and physical well-being.

“People need to feel valued and feel important and it’s a key component of self worth that's different than self-esteem,” says Dr. Gordon Flett, professor at York University.

Flett and his team have studied how 'mattering' makes a positive impact for seniors, especially during the pandemic.

“COVID-19 issues, in terms of loneliness and isolation, which are felt by everyone but especially those people already feeling isolated like a senior citizen," says Flett.

A Lawson Health Research Institute scientist who collaborated with Flett on the study, Dr. Marnin Heisel, says seniors need to feel like they matter more than most other adults.

“For people who feel they don’t matter and certainly for older adults who feel that way, there can be a sense of resignation or really of giving up on life.”

The research team says that can lead to loneliness, depression and even suicidal thoughts. However, Flett says taking the time to show someone they do matter has great benefits.

“It’s related to better physical health in a couple controlled studies that have been done. Better mental health and positive well being and lower levels of things like loneliness and depression.”

Heisel says the hopes are this study will be an eye-opener for society as a whole.

"It’s a reminder that older adults are sensitive to these issues and that some of the remedies are as simple as picking up a phone, letting someone know that you’re thinking about them, that you care about them, that you miss them and that they do matter.”