Want to Live Longer?

Any discussion about healthy lifestyle and longer life features the usual suspects:

  • Quit smoking
  • Sensible balanced diet
  • Adequate exercise
  • Sufficient sleep

How about this one…

  • Work longer


Yep. A study conducted at Oregon State University concludes that working past age 65 may actually prolong your life. Even worse, retiring early could be a risk factor for dying sooner.

The researchers somehow determined that people who retired at 66 instead of 65 had an 11% lower risk of death even when taking lifestyle, demographic, and health issues into account. Further, the older participants’ average bowling score was a full five points higher.

We’re just kidding about that second thing because, seriously, how in the world can one presume to calculate such a precise (and significant) statistic about risk of death from a narrow variable like simply working an extra year? It doesn’t take a scientist to intuit that a host of factors contribute to one’s longevity. Who funds studies like this anyway?

In all fairness the conclusion makes sense on a certain level. Research from the Institute of Economic Affairs found that retirement can increase the chances of clinical depression by 40% and the development of at least one physical disorder by roughly 60%.

Why? Because for so many Americans work and identity are indistinguishable. Getting ready for work–commuting to and from–more waking time spent with coworkers than spouses. No wonder retirement can often create such a frightening void.

So forget about depression and illness. Retirement is supposed to be something to look forward to, and that’s the key to sidestepping all these grim outcomes. We always advise that those who successfully retire abroad are moving toward something instead of away from something. And the same principle applies even if you never leave your current residence.

Being glad you don’t have to go to work anymore isn’t enough. It’s important to spend time thinking about and planning for your future retirement life instead of just showing up and wondering, “Now what?”

If still part of the workforce, most of your social life is probably built around office place camaraderie. It would be weird for you to keep showing up to hang out with your buddies when you don’t actually work there anymore. So what are you going to do to replace that companionship? Loneliness is a major trigger for depression in older people. Be proactive instead of a statistic for a future study.

What have you always wanted to do but didn’t pursue because you had no time? Guess what–you’ve got 24/7/365 time in retirement so take those old dreams down from the shelf and dust them off. Fishing, quilting, community theater await!

We know that study is bogus because we retired early and feel like we’ve turned back the hands of time. In fact, we’ve never been happier or healthier. But we came to Ecuador not just to live but to create a life for ourselves.

Whether you move abroad or not, as you approach retirement take responsibility for your future happiness and wellbeing. Tercera edad (“Third Age” in Spanish) is what you’ve worked hard for your whole life. Think about it–plan for it–make it a concluding act with no regrets.

Finally, since we’re probably older than most of our readers we advise you to use caution before inviting us out for a night of bowling because statistics show we’ll most likely kick your butt.

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  1. Mark Mazor

    Edd/Cynthia – Just a quick note to tell you again how much I enjoy reading your articles. So carefree and representative of the wonderful life that you both have carved out for yourself. The wife and I live in a suburb of Atlanta, and I think that we are leaning toward a “different” kind of retirement life once our only child “Cats’ in the Cradle”s me. We both love all things European, and I hope to one day
    become nomad travelers all across that continent, enjoying a new adventure every day.

    Anyway, have a wonderful summer and safe travels. You both do so much for so many people across the world. Sincerely, Mark and Chantel Mazor

  2. Edd and Cynthia Staton

    Thanks so much for taking the time to share such kind words, Mark & Chantel. We spent most of our lives in Atlanta and raised our family in Roswell. Your retirement ideas are terrific. We couldn’t live out of suitcases long term and need a “base,” even if it’s for an extended period in another country. That’s the great news about retirement–the only right way is the one that suits you! Please stay in touch.


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