Connections for Longevity 102721

The Importance of Connections for Longevity and Health

In my quest to follow my own recommendations about the Power of 5, I have taken a serious approach to making and consolidating connections I’ve made during my lifetime. Toward that end and since I am now retired, there is no excuse for not reconnecting relationships I have made in the past.

When some of the COVID concerns abated, my wife and I made plans to visit some old friends. I had few connections with my medical school classmates over the 40 years since graduation. It’s not that we didn’t care about one another, it’s just that having careers and raising a family make it difficult to add additional people into your circle of connections.

As our schedule to travel developed, we had a wedding north of New York City in August and contacted three of my close friends from my days at Albany Medical College. My wife, Melissa, and I had made contact via Zoom and reacquainted virtually during the pandemic. We thought it would be a wonderful experience to spend a day or two with each of these families.

Rebuilding Connections

After our niece’s fabulous wedding, we drove to see our friends David and Deborah in Massachusetts. David, now retired, had been one of my older companions in medical school and his wife was his support system, raising their two children. Forty years earlier, I was chosen to be their first son’s godfather and because of that, our connection really would never end. We had a wonderful time reacquainting ourselves and enjoying their hospitality. They had a downsized into a comfortable home with beautiful surroundings. They wanted to share the beauty of the area in which they lived. We got in their car and drove for about an hour looking at all the fine scenery of lakes, rolling hills, and historic sites associated with their region. We talked about each other’s injuries, mostly because of crazy adventures, our careers, family, children, parents, weddings, funerals, you name it. It was as if we were just seeing each other just a few weeks removed from graduation. We picked up right where we left off.

Our visit with Dave and Deborah was shorter than we would have desired, but we had a commitment to visit Scott and Wendy. I have had a little more contact with Scott since medical school but really didn’t have time to see him very often. Wendy, his wife, was another classmate of mine so we were well acquainted. We also had a Zoom call with them during the pandemic, which was helpful in laying the groundwork for a visit with them. They have a second home in Vermont on a lake and given the choice of venues, Melissa and I visited them in Vermont. Like our friends Dave and Deborah, they were delighted with the area of their second home and showed us around many sites. They were particularly interested in understanding how we cook certain foods that they could incorporate into their lives. They delighted over Melissa’s famous Vegan Eggplant Parmigiana. Despite the rain, we had a great time discussing many of the same subjects we did with David and Deborah just a day earlier. There were awkward times when Melissa and I could not recall who we said what to over the three days as we had so much ground to cover.

When we left, it was with a sense that we had rekindled connections that had long since become dormant, but never extinguished.

Staying Connected with Intention

I know that reconnecting was intentional, but how else does something like that happen? We did not connect with just anyone; we reconnected with people who made a difference in my life in medical school and the bond remains.

When I discuss the physical and psychological benefits of socialization and connections, I remind my audiences and readers that it may seem insincere but the act to reconnect or maintain connections requires intention. It will only happen if you work to make it happen.

Maintaining connection is beneficial for our physical and mental well-being. When we choose to live a healthy lifestyle, we must include developing and maintaining connections with others. This is a lesson that I share all the time, and I had the good fortune of having rekindled these connections this summer.

I urge you to begin the rekindling process if that is what you need to nurture relationships. It is yet another device in the toolbox for longevity and for remaining youthful.

To a long and healthy life,

David Bernstein, M.D.

P.S. Remember to follow Melissa in the Power of 5 Test Kitchen and join in the happenings!