I’m A 102-Year-Old MD: This Is My #1 Secret To Healthy Aging

At a fundamental level, we are all connected. It is easy to forget this and see ourselves as separate beings. After all, it’s me, wrapped in my own skin, and there you are, wrapped in yours. However, we are social creatures and depend on each other to survive. No matter how much we try to separate ourselves, we are part of a community, for better or worse.

However, a true sense of community seems rare in our modern era. Even before the pandemic, many media outlets pointed out that we are experiencing a crisis of loneliness. Loneliness has been identified as a problem in numerous countries and in a variety of demographic groups.

This feeling of disconnection wreaks havoc on the body. A study from Brigham Young University showed that feeling lonely has the same effect on longevity as smoke fifteen cigarettes a day. Poor social relationships have been associated with a 29% increase in the risk of heart disease and a 32% increase in the risk of stroke.

At the same time, data shows that positive social connections help us thrive. The author Ashton Apple White has observed that social connection is the main indicator of happy and healthy aging. It also recommends multigenerational friendships, an idea echoed by numerous studies showing the positive effects of being around young children on older people facing questions of purpose.

While marriage in general is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, troubled marriages are associated with increased risk. According to the Harvard Study of Adult DevelopmentThe quality of our relationships at age fifty is the greatest predictor of our health and well-being at age eighty.

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