Living Longer: Some Unconventional, but Practical, Year-End Advice

As we begin to say farewell to 2014, many are focused on the performance of their investment portfolios and planning for the year to come, but I’ll let the experts guide us through the annual financial and tax-related laundry lists, and instead take an unconventional, but hopefully constructive, approach to helping you prepare for the New Year and beyond.

As most of you know, a fundamental component of HealthView’s approach to calculating future health care costs is projecting life expectancy based on health and gender. Understanding this expense can help advisors and individuals plan for, manage, and even reduce these costs and increase the chance of achieving financial security in retirement.

Health care costs generally increase with age because the longer you live, the more likely you will need products like prescription drugs or specialized care (see IRI Study). However, improving your overall health will translate into lower yearly costs, so you can actually save money by simply taking better care of yourself.

So my holiday gift to you is to share a few things that may improve your health, prolong your life, and protect your pocketbook.

Let’s begin with the institution of marriage.

I was disappointed to learn recently that the divorce rate of older couples is on the rise, and according to HealthView’s legal counsel, January is the most popular month to file for divorce.

Wrong holiday gifts, perhaps? Too much eggnog?

Anyway, there is a serious downside for divorcing Boomers: married couples live longer. Individuals deliberating whether to file next month must not only reflect upon their finances, kids, assets, property, and legal fees, but also come to terms with the very real possibility that breaking up may reduce their overall life expectancy.

Why is that? According to our medical experts, the socioeconomic benefits of marriage improve the overall immune system, thus reducing the likelihood that partners will suffer the effects of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or cancer.

Let’s also consider a couple of surprising findings by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. Marriage benefits men more than women, and the younger the wife, the longer the male will live; however, statistics also reveal that a gentleman who marries an older woman will perish sooner than the fellow who marries a younger woman

So if you have a significant other and are contemplating whether to take the next step, remember that reciting your vows might lengthen your life.

The second life extender is connecting wealth to health.

According to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation, every $10,000 of family income for residents in affluent communities yields one additional year of life.

People can start making money by furthering their education; although a college degree is expensive, it can add up to five years to life expectancy.

Also, increasing net worth by moving up the corporate ladder, marrying “right,” or being lucky enough to have well-to-do parents can all contribute to a longer lifespan.

The third life extender is exercise in moderation.

Let’s define “moderation.” The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services classifies taking a brisk walk for around 20 minutes a day as moderate exercise, and the National Cancer Institute states that doing this will increase life expectancy by around 3.5 years! (Hey, even a 10-minute walk a day can add 1.8 years to your life. See

Finally, always keep a current list of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, known allergies, and physician’s contact information in your wallet. If you are planning a winter vacation or live in a warmer climate during winter months, place your medical records on a thumb drive and attach it to your keychain. In an emergency, providing medical personnel with vital information at a moment’s notice may actually save your life.

As I reflect upon my lifestyle choices, I guess I might be around for a while. As of this writing, I’m married and have a college degree. Rich people are the ones holding winning lottery tickets, but I’m not poor, either. I take a brisk one-hour walk five days a week and never leave my house without my medical info.

Also, since the data shows that alcohol consumption in moderation can have health benefits, I’ve added a glass of wine to dinner every night. My parents drank wine with their meals, and they both lived into their 90s, so maybe there’s something to it.

Cheers and happy holidays.