At 100 years old, the world’s oldest practicing doctor knows a thing or two about how to live a long and happy life — but you might not like everything he has to say.
For Dr. Howard Tucker — born on July 10, 1922, in Cleveland, Ohio — a key secret to longevity is meaningful work.
Tucker received his medical degree from The Ohio State University College of Medicine in 1947 and he practiced neurology for 75 years — eventually earning the Guinness World Records title of the world’s oldest practicing physician.
The chipper centenarian has lived a remarkable life, sharing many happy years with his wife Sara (who still practices psychoanalysis and psychiatry at age 89), his four children and 10 grandchildren.
While Tucker said “good genes and a bit of luck” can help to extend your life, he also followed a few simple lifestyle rules that boosted his health and happiness.
Delay your retirement (if you can)
After his record-breaking career, Tucker’s contrarian view on retirement might not surprise you.
“I look upon retirement as the enemy of longevity,” he told TODAY shortly after his 100th birthday. “I think that to retire, one can face potential shriveling up and ending in a nursing home. It’s fun staying alive and working… Every day I learn something new.”
Not even the COVID-19 pandemic could stop Tucker from practicing his trade. He continued treating patients for five or six days a week during the pandemic — when his age would have classified him as high-risk.
The 100-year-old did eventually stop seeing patients in 2022, but he continued working twice a week teaching medical residents at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center in Cleveland.
While he’s acknowledged that some jobs are too physically or emotionally demanding to keep into old age, Tucker thinks you should consider delaying retirement if you enjoy your career and are still able to work.
“I’m going to caution (people): If they retire from their work, they should at least do something as a hobby, whether it be communal work or self-hobbies… you need a stimulus for the brain daily,” he said.
There can also be some financial benefits to delaying your retirement — even by just a few years.
The Schroders 2023 US Retirement Survey revealed that only 24% of Americans nearing retirement age (60-67 years old) believe they have enough money saved to live out their golden years in comfort.
A few extra years of saving and strategizing with the help of a financial planner can make all the difference and help to ease any money concerns you may have in later life.
Also, if you wait until age 70 to start claiming your Social Security benefits, you will get a much bigger payout than if you claim at the earliest possible age.
Stay fit and healthy
Tucker is a sprightly centenarian who likes to keep busy — both physically and mentally.
He’s never smoked, he has a healthy diet — thanks to his “excellent chef” of a wife, who includes greens with every meal — and he drinks alcohol in moderation, allowing himself the occasional martini.
To this day, Tucker loves to exercise.
“Swimming, jogging, hiking, and skiing well into my late-80s has kept me strong and healthy,” he wrote in a contributed article for CNBC.