How a hip or knee replacement can increase longevity by increasing your connectivity to others


By William A Leone, MD

May is Older Americans Month and is a time to highlight trends in healthy aging. This year’s theme, #PoweredByConnection, focuses on the profound impact that meaningful connections have on the well-being and health of older adults — a relationship underscored by the U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community. This detailed report called attention to the public health crisis of loneliness and lack of connection in America. 

Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately half of U.S. adults reported experiencing various levels of loneliness. It’s a fact that disconnection fundamentally affects our mental, physical, and emotional health and increases the risk of developing mental health challenges. The risk of premature death from isolation is comparable to the risk of smoking daily. 

When you are facing surgery or you have recently recovered from it, maintaining those personal connections is not just about having someone to chat with; it's about the transformative potential of family and community engagement in enhancing your overall well-being.

Recognizing and nurturing the role that connectedness plays can mitigate issues associated with loneliness and ultimately promote healthier aging. If you need hip or knee replacement surgery, chances are that once the surgery alleviates the joint pain and limitations you’ve been suffering, you’re going to feel a lot more like getting in touch with others. You can start making those social connections again with a whole new pain-free outlook on life.   

The Administration for Community Living, which promotes Older Americans Month, also recommends the following:

  • Inviting more connection into your life by finding a new passion, joining a social club, taking a class or trying new activities in your community. 

  • Staying engaged by volunteering, working, teaching or mentoring.

  • Discovering deeper connections with your family, friends, colleagues, or neighbors.

In his Surgeon General’s Advisory on Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy noted that the physical health consequences of poor or insufficient connection include a 29% increased risk of heart disease, a 32% increased risk of stroke, and a 50% increased risk of developing dementia for older adults. Additionally, lacking social connection increases risk of premature death by more than 60%.

“Each of us can start now, in our own lives, by strengthening our connections and relationships. Our individual relationships are an untapped resource - a source of healing hiding in plain sight,” Dr. Murphy said in his Advisory.  “They can help us live healthier, more productive, and more fulfilled lives. Answer that phone call from a friend. Make time to share a meal. Listen without the distraction of your phone. Perform an act of service. Express yourself authentically. The keys to human connection are simple, but extraordinarily powerful.”

I see repeatedly when my patients return after a hip or knee replacement, they are not only grateful, they are again smiling and more engaged in life. So, take that first step to connect with others during Older Americans Month to banish loneliness from your life and boost your health. If you are suffering with pain or limitations from an arthritic hip or knee, then explore joint replacement which not only relieves symptoms from your arthritic joint, but can also improve your quality of life and longevity. 


William Leone, MD