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Is the key to longer life work?

Don’t retire, said this Japanese longevity expert. And if you must, do it well after the age of 65.

The late Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara. Credit: Japan Society

Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, chairman of St. Luke’s International University and president of St. Luke’s International Hospital, followed his own advice too – until a few months before he passed away on July 18, he continued to treat patients, according to Business Insider.

His reasoning? In Japan, the retirement age was set at 65 at a time when people had an average life expectancy of 68. Now Japan’s life expectancy has hit 84 years – so people should theoretically retire much later too.

Living longer – and better

Dr Hinohara suggested that everyone should worry less about eating well and sleeping more and have fun: “Energy comes from feeling good, not from eating well or sleeping a lot. We all remember how as children, when we were having fun, we often forgot to eat or sleep. I believe that we can keep that attitude as adults, too. It’s best not to tire the body with too many rules such as lunchtime and bedtime.”

Use those scales: “All people who live long – regardless of nationality, race or gender – share one thing in common: None are overweight.”

Always plan ahead: Dr. Hinohara kept an appointment book with space for the next five years where he would set out lectures and goals.

Get moving: “To stay healthy, always take the stairs and carry your own stuff. I take two stairs at a time, to get my muscles moving.”

And finally give back to others: “It’s wonderful to live long. Until one is 60 years old, it is easy to work for one’s family and to achieve one’s goals. But in our later years, we should strive to contribute to society. Since the age of 65, I have worked as a volunteer. I still put in 18 hours seven days a week and love every minute of it.”

Dr Hinohara is not the only one who thinks we will be working late into our lives. Ric Edelman, founder and executive chairman of the US-based Edelman Financial Services, has told Business Insider we will need to work well past the traditional retirement age of 65 – and we’ll enjoy it.


Financial adviser Rid Edelman

Well firstly, we’re going to be healthy enough to do it. “You’re going to be as healthy at age 100 as you are at age 40 or 50, and that means you’re going to want to remain viable and a participant in the economy to be a valued member of the community,” he said.

Secondly, it’s going to be easier to earn a living through part-time work, online and the ‘gig economy’. “You’re not going to have to work 40 or 50 hours a week, and you’re not going to have to make 100 or 200 grand a year to do it.”

And if we need a break? Mr Edelman says most workers will take sabbaticals or ‘mini-retirements’ for a few years where we will learn new skills before returning to the workforce.

This is definitely some food for thought as people to continue to live longer and healthier lives. I think we could all take on board some of this advice – especially about having more fun!

About Eve Williams

Eve Williams
Eve Williams is the Production and Social Media Administrator for Eldernet. She is currently studying towards her Masters at the University of Canterbury. She has a passion for learning new things.

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