Here’s a story worth spreading.
At the age of 97 years and 4 months, Shigeaki Hinohara is one of the world’s longest-serving physicians and educators. He has been healing patients at St. Luke’s International Hospital in Tokyo and teaching at St. Luke’s College of Nursing since 1941.
When people live long, they always seem to have some ‘reason’ for it. But in this case much of his advice seems very sound.
Energy comes from feeling good, not from eating well or sleeping a lot. Hinohara says we all remember how as children, when we were having fun, we often forgot to eat or sleep. He believes that we can keep that attitude as adults, too, and that it’s best not to tire the body with too many rules such as lunchtime and bedtime.
All people who live long — regardless of nationality, race or gender — share one thing in common: None are overweight. For breakfast Hinohara drinks coffee, a glass of milk and some orange juice with a tablespoon of olive oil in it. His lunch is milk and a few cookies. His dinner is veggies, a bit of fish and rice, and, twice a week, 100 grams of lean meat.
Always plan ahead. His schedule book is already full until 2014. In 2016 he plans to attend the Tokyo Olympics!
There is no need to ever retire, but if one must, it should be a lot later than 65. The current retirement age was set at 65 half a century ago, when the average life-expectancy in Japan was much lower.
Share what you know. Hinohara gives 150 lectures a year, some for 100 elementary-school children, others for 4,500 business people.
When a doctor recommends you take a test or have some surgery, ask whether the doctor would suggest that his or her spouse or children go through such a procedure. Contrary to popular belief, doctors can’t cure everyone — so why cause unnecessary pain with surgery? Hinohara thinks that music and animal therapy can help more than most doctors imagine.
To stay healthy, always take the stairs and carry your own stuff. He take two stairs at a time, to get his muscles moving.
Pain is mysterious, and having fun is the best way to forget it. Hospitals must cater to the basic need of patients, and we all want to have fun.
Don’t be crazy about amassing material things. Remember: You don’t know when your number is up, and you can’t take it with you to the next place.
Hospitals must be designed and prepared for major disasters, and they must accept every patient who appears at their doors. Hinohara helped design St. Luke’s so that it was possible to operate anywhere: in the basement, in the corridors, in the chapel. Most people thought he was crazy, but on March 20, 1995, he was unfortunately proven right when members of the Aum Shinrikyu religious cult launched a terrorist attack in the Tokyo subway. St. Luke’s accepted 740 victims and in two hours figured out that it was sarin gas that had hit them. Sadly they lost one person, but they saved 739 lives.
Science alone can’t cure or help people. Illness is individual. Each person is unique, and diseases are connected to their hearts. To know the illness and help people, there is a need for liberal and visual arts, not just medical ones.
Life is filled with incidents. On March 31, 1970, when Hinohara was 59 years old, he boarded the Yodogo, a flight from Tokyo to Fukuoka. The plane was hijacked by the Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction. He spent the next four days handcuffed to his seat. As a doctor, he looked at it all as an experiment and was amazed at how his body slowed down in a crisis.
Find a role model and aim to achieve even more than they could ever do. Hinohara’s role model was his father, who went to the United States in 1900 to study at Duke University, in North Carolina.
It’s wonderful to live long. Since the age of 65, Hinohara has worked as a volunteer. He still puts in 18 hours, seven days a week, and loves every minute of it.