The Secret to Living to 100: Don't Do It Alone

So, what’s the secret of Jeanne Louise Calment? Lots of olive oil, chocolate and exercise, according to Guinness. And a witty personality. Of course, while research has largely supported the benefits of a healthy Mediterranean diet and exercise, there may also be other factors at play for longevity.

I came across a recent article that discussed the importance of friends, family and neighbors — in other words, a sense of community — for living longer. And this makes so much sense to me. I am fortunate to reside within walking distance of my best friend, whom I’ve known for more than 30 years. We see each regularly and have supported one another through all of our milestones and hiccups. I know that our friendship keeps each of us healthy and lively, positively impacting our outlook on life.

You’re likely familiar with the films of Mel Brooks (e.g. Blazing Saddles) and Carl Reiner (e.g. The Jerk), but you may not know that they were close friends for more than 70 years. They made it a tradition to have dinner together at Carl’s house nearly every night until his passing at age 98.  As Brooks had told The Guardian earlier this year, “This is a great place because I got friendship, love and free food.”

Yet, I know that for many, seeing your close friends — or even your own family — is not as easy for many reasons. But it is so important to find your community as best you can. If you can’t meet in person, ask for help with setting up video calls. And, as you plan the next several decades of your life, assume that it is possible to live until at least 100 years old. Make sure you have a place where you’ll be able to stay active as much as you want to, maintain visits with your friends (and continue to make new ones) and have access to help if you need it. Each day doesn’t need to necessarily feel like an episode of The Golden Girls, but it sure helps to have a pal and a confidant.

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