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100-year-old who worked from age 18 to 99 on how staying busy helped her live a long life: ‘Retirement, I don't like too much'

Courtesy of Madeline Paldo

Madeline Paldo is newly retired at 100 years old. Paldo worked for over 80 years from ages 18 to 99, and she believes working was a big contributor to her longevity.

"That kept me busy, and I enjoyed working," Paldo says about her former job. "Retirement, I don't like too much."

Paldo's family started a sign business in Chicago producing electric signs, and Paldo was in charge of office work. She'd often get to interact with customers which was her favorite part of the job.

"I liked being with the public. I liked being with people," Paldo tells CNBC Make It. "And I was the only one in the office that did all of the office work for our business, so it was enjoyable. I liked to go to work."

An 85-year Harvard study discovered that positive relationships make people happier and can help them live longer. For this reason, it's not surprising that Paldo places a strong emphasis on the significance of family and friends.

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"A lot of centenarians talk about the importance of relationships, their families, their communities [and] their friends," says Dr. Sofiya Milman, associate professor of medicine and genetics and director of human longevity studies at the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Milman is also involved with the SuperAgers Family Study, which aims to discover the biological factors that contribute to longevity.

Paldo still stays socially fit at 100 by going out to dinner with her children and going to family events; she recently attended a wedding earlier this month.

Madeline Paldo, 100, deeply values her family and friends.
Courtesy of Madeline Paldo
Madeline Paldo, 100, deeply values her family and friends.

She also enjoys going to Dunkin' Donuts every Sunday with her son to meet up with friends: "I look forward to that every week."

Paldo says she's lucky enough to have a few friends that are around her age who frequently visit her home for lunch.

"They always call me, 'We're coming for lunch Wednesday at 12 o' clock,'" she adds. "We have fun. Without your friends, I mean, where are you, right?"

While maintaining healthy relationships that make us happy is a significant factor in living longer, there are other factors that have likely contributed to Paldo's longevity.

For starters, "in general, women's average lifespan is longer than men's," says Milman. And "we do think that genetics [also] has a lot to do with [longevity]."

In fact, Paldo's older sister lived to age 103. "But she and I are the only ones that lived to be over the age of 100," she says, in reference to her parents who passed away at the age of 84 and her sisters who didn't live very long lives.

Paldo grew up on a mostly plant-based diet and stays active

Paldo aims to stay active, stating, "I still get around very well. I can go up the stairs and down the stairs. I have energy, so I'm in pretty great shape for 100."

She also tries to eat as healthy as possible, which started for her during her childhood: "As a child, there were seven kids in the family, my father made a big garden and so we lived on vegetables mostly. Not too much meat, we couldn't afford to buy meat."

"I think that was probably why I ate healthy," she adds. Currently, she doesn't eat junk food and is "kind of a health bug."

Centenarians typically are also more optimistic, says Milman, and Paldo fits that description. It isn't clear if centenarians have always been positive or if they developed their positive outlooks with age, Milman adds.

Paldo says she doesn't get stressed much because "everything can be solved."

"I'm very fortunate to have reached the old age of 100, and in as good as health as I am," says Paldo. "I can't complain about my health. I'm walking, I'm talking [and] I have no pain."

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