Ask Edith Smith, a proud 103-year-old, about her friends, and she’ll give you an earful.
There’s Johnetta, 101, whom she’s known for 70 years and who has Alzheimer’s disease. “I call her every day and just say ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ She never knows, but she says hi back, and I tease her,” Smith said.
There’s Katie, 93, whom Smith met during a long teaching career with the Chicago Public Schools. “Every day we have a good conversation. She’s still driving and lives in her own house, and she tells me what’s going on.”
Then there’s Rhea, 90, whom Smith visits regularly at a retirement facility. And Mary, 95, who doesn’t leave her house anymore, “so I fix her a basket about once a month of jelly and little things I make and send it over by cab.” And fellow residents at Smith’s Chicago senior community, whom she recognizes with a card and a treat on their birthdays.
That may be one reason why this lively centenarian has an extraordinary memory for someone her age, suggests a recent study by researchers at Northwestern University highlighting a notable link between brain health and positive relationships.