Extending Longevity to Disenfranchised Populations Through Resilience

By Dennis Archambault

Wellness has been around a long time. For some, it is part of their lifestyle. For others, it’s an aspiration. For others, it’s defined as resilience and measured by the ability to withstand.

Recently, Crain’s Detroit Business published an article about Synergy Longevity Centers, which the news publication said is “filling health care gaps.” Those of us working in community health know many gaps that need to be filled. The discussion about a clinic that promotes “longevity” is an interesting one. Longevity, simply put, means a “long life.” It implies a long healthy life. In our world, we speak about “resilience,” the ability to withstand and recover from health and social assault. There are plenty of gaps in this line of work, and not much talk about “longevity.”

Longevity, in the gap filled by Synergy Longevity Centers, is a concierge model, beginning with a “longevity evaluation” costing $7,449. The consultation includes a battery of tests including a full-body MRI. And then there are lifestyle recommendations and ongoing consultations with specialists. All leading to the promise of a long, healthy life.

In the context of health equity, who is able to live a healthier longer life/ And who is struggling to resist communicable diseases and manage chronic diseases to prevent an early death and misery. Longevity in this space is hard work, often involving policy advocacy, social engineering, and innovative thinking without many angel investors. Take for example the Healthy and Resilient Communities initiative launched by Authority Health this year, thanks to a $5 million appropriation by the State of Michigan.

We learned during the COVID pandemic that longevity was disproportionately cut short for African Americans and people of color in large part because they were not resilient in the face of this disease. And that is mostly related to chronic disease, largely brought on by a long history of injustice and inequity, steeped in racist systems. One such system is centered around food and the   lack of access to healthy food options in communities of color. This is commonly called a food swamp. Communities plagued by “food swamps” tend to have more cases of chronic disease, which is indirectly related to poor nutrition.

The innovative component is based on a pilot project, also funded by the state, conducted by Authority Health several years ago. In short, we demonstrated that if you put healthy food products in a highly visible place in a convenience store, it will sell. And with repeat sales comes awareness, and hopefully reinforced good behavior.

We’re also doing this in the area of early detection of chronic kidney disease, in partnership with the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan.

There are many areas of wellness that require innovation of a different sort than that employed by Synergy Longevity Centers. Nothing against the model of concierge wellness services – wellness has been slow to be accepted in our culture. But we need longevity to be equitable, as well. Let’s start with resilience.

Dennis Archambault is vice president of Public Affairs for Authority Health.

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