Old people

The Keys To Living Longer – The 90+ Research Study

in Retirement Planning by

Do you want to live longer? I certainly do, but only if the extended life is full of health and vitality. My grandmother at the age of 78 suffered a debilitating stroke while traveling abroad. She could not get to the emergency room in time, so she ended up losing her ability to speak and walk.

I flew back to Honolulu from New York City once I heard the news. Every time I visited her in the assisted living facility I wrapped my sorrow in a box and put on a happy face. She would nod her head with excitement and try to murmur words of encouragement as I told her about the long hours working on Wall Street. After about 20 minutes, she would fade away and sleep. A week later she passed away.

Now that I’ve got us all depressed, let’s figure out the secrets to a longer life.


60 Minutes recently highlighted a terrific segment of a group of people in their 90s dubbed “The Oldest Old.” The Oldest Old are surprisingly the fastest growing segment of the US population despite the Millennial generation receiving all the attention. Our life expectancy has increased by 30 years to 79 from just 49 in 1900.

The 90+ year old participants of this survey at one point all lived in a community in Southern California called “Leisure World” aka Laguna Woods in 1981. Leisure World surveyed 14,000 of their residents with hundreds of pages of data about their exercise, diet, vitamins, and activities.

Dr. Claudia Kawas, a Neurologist and Professor at UCI proceeded to track down 1,600 of the survey’s survivors to find out their secrets of living into their 90s.

Here’s what she found:

* 45 minutes of exercise a day is optimum, while exercising as little as 15 minutes a day on average made a positive difference. Exercising for much longer than 45 minutes made no difference. The exercise doesn’t have to be all at once, neither does the exercise have to be intense.

* Book clubs, socializing, and board games, are all good. For every hour of activity, you increased your longevity (doesn’t say how much) and the benefits of these activities never wore off.

* Vitamins A, C, E, and calcium didn’t make a difference.

* Moderate alcohol up to two drinks a day led up to a 10-15% reduced risk of death compared to non alcohol drinkers.

* Drinking any kind of alcohol up to two drinks a day is fine. You don’t have to just drink wine.

* One to two cups of coffee a day are better than more cups of coffee or none

* Smokers died earlier.

* Gaining weight is good as you age. But it’s not good to be overweight while young or skinny when old.

Please have a watch of this 12:52 minute segment on age. Sorry for the commercials. (May not show up on mobile or e-mail so please click through to the laptop/desktop version)


The second 13:24 minute segment of 60 Minutes discusses Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and what researchers have learned from analyzing patient’s brains with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Here are some key points from this segment:

* It is a myth that if you get to 90, you won’t get Alzheimer’s and dementia. The risk of getting dementia doubles every five years starting at the age of 65.

* 40% of the time when doctors think a 90+ year old patient has dementia, they don’t have dementia.

* People can have microscopic strokes (microinfarcts) and not even know they are having them. The microinfarcts are totally silent while slowly disconnecting your cortex from your brain.

* If you have high blood pressure, you have LOWER risk of dementia in a 90+ year old. Doctors suspect low blood pressure may cause microscopic strokes.

* Romance is an important part of staying young and keeping your sanity.

* There are unfortunately many different variables that may be causing dementia. The theory is that after one too many hits, a person can’t stand them all and begins to rapidly lose their mind.

Here’s the video. Sorry for the commercials again.


Life speed accelerates as we get older. We’re often so incredibly focused on our careers and making more money that we seldom stop to think about what it all means. Perhaps use this weekend to have a heart-to-heart with yourself and find out what you really want to do with your time. After you figure out what you want, fight like hell to get there.



Photo credit: Old buddies supporting each other in San Francisco, 2014, FS.

The following two tabs change content below.

Financial Samurai

Sam is the former Managing Editor of the Daily Capital blog. He worked in finance from 1999-2012 before deciding to focus full-time on his online endeavors - FinancialSamurai.com and the Yakezie Network. Sam is an avid tennis fan who loves to travel. He received his BA from William & Mary and his MBA from UC Berkeley.


  1. Anonymous

    When I think of the secret of living a long life, I often return to an amazing quote from Fauja Singh, the first 100-year-old to have completed a marathon:

    “The secret to a long and healthy life is to be stress-free. Be grateful for everything you have, stay away from people who are negative, stay smiling and keep running.”

    Thanks for sharing those studies, Sam! I certainly won’t complain about keeping romance, coffee and wine around as well 😉

    • Financial Samurai

      Wow, I can’t believe someone did a marathon at 100! I can’t even do a marathon now. One for the bucket list!

      Thanks for sharing.

  2. Joe Saul-Sehy

    I always knew my alcohol consumption would come in handy one day….. 🙂

    Seriously, this is a BIG problem in financial planning. People are showing themselves not living long enough, and then risk running out of money only because of poor planning. Plan to live a long life and you’ll do yourself (and your money) a favor.

    • Financial Samurai

      Sounds good Joe. I like the findings that one should gain weight too as we grow older. No problems there! ha

  3. untemplater

    Wow a lot of surprising statistics about that age group. I wouldn’t have thought that moderate alcohol and coffee intake would be beneficial over none. Overconsumption is obviously not good, but some versus none – that’s a surprise to me.

    I can see how socializing is beneficial in old age. I think a lot of elders get super lonely if their family is far away and they’re aren’t mobile enough to go visit people.

  4. Goran

    I wonder if the obsession with longer life is due to poor quality of life prior to retirement.

  5. Shaun

    Would you rather die younger and rich, or older and poor?

  6. Lander Stoddard

    I wonder if the alcohol and coffee consumption are just behaviors of people who are more energized, active, socially engaged, happy/positive, and less stressed…

  7. Hindi D

    That was a fascinating survey, however, there was no mention of mental attitudes towards life which I believe certainly has a beneficial effect on longevity.
    Keep the glass half full, NOT half empty, stay upbeat and excited about what you can learn each day, and when you hear some senior say he or she is bored, that means THEY are boring. How can you be bored in today’s world with so much happening around us and in the world in general?Keep living
    and loving and you’ll achieve what is really important to your well being and longevity.

  8. Julia

    Ever since I was 15, I loved being around old people; they have so much to tell and teach; I lost a good friend at 90 in 2007; he was from the neighborhood and mom’s friend- her domino game partner; he stood by me when she died (2002) and he visited my grandma daily for me until she passed(2004); he was the grand pa I never had and we spoke daily on the phone since he lived in NYC and I in NJ; on the week-ends, I’d go visit him with my son and tidy his studio apt. And No, it was Not about money; he had none except $400 union pension+ $1200 SocSec. I thought it was only $650 until I had to pay his bills from his checking during his hospital stay! Looks like after he paid $350 rent+$50 cable, ate very well and gambled the rest; so, no money, no insurance and no family to take care of things, I had told him not to worry that I’ll take care of it. The neighborhood was Shocked by my generosity and raised cash to pay 1/2 the cost – some wagging tongues about money/ins motivation of course.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Disclaimer. This Website may contain links to third-party websites. These links are provided solely as a convenience to you and does not imply an affiliation, sponsorship, endorsement, approval, investigation, verification, or monitoring by PCAC of the contents on such third-party websites. Please be advised that PCAC is not responsible for the content of any website owned by a third party.