Have you ever thought about living to 100? A few decades ago that might have sounded impossible. Yet, today in America, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 71,991 Americans alive in 2010 that are 100 years. That number is projected to skyrocket to 601,000 by the year 2050 – only 37 years away! If you would like to see what life in America is like at the age of 100, read on and learn the longevity secrets of those who, happily and healthily, are still enjoying their life at 100 years of age.
Living to 100: What Matters the Most
Back in 2006, United Healthcare first did a study of Americans 100 years-old. They wanted to get an insight into the lifestyles of the fastest growing segment of the population – Americans living to be 100 or older. In an effort to promote awareness of what may be the keys to living a very long and healthy life, they wanted to learn what centenarians were doing – health wise, spiritually, socially – that had enabled them to reach that 100 year milestone.
So, every year since then United Healthcare has done the 100@100 study. Each year, the number of Americans living to the age of 100 has increased from the year before but certain aspects of the results have emerged as what may be key to the longevity of this group of people. As I’m firmly rooted in Anti-Aging Medicine, I thought the results of this study (from July 2011) are things you’d like to know about in your quest to live a long and healthy life. So, I put together the results of the 4 key areas of focus. I think you’ll find them pretty interesting and inspiring.
I. Longevity. Of all the centenarians questioned in the study, about half of the people studied revealed that the big 3 keys to their longevity were “fitness, family and faith.” Almost half (47%) of the people studied related that, at one point in their adult life, they made the decision to adopt a healthy lifestyle in order to live longer and healthier. Many of them decided to live this way while still a child or a teenager.
A very large percentage of those studied (in the 87% range) said that taking good care of themselves accounted for most of their success. They cited getting plenty of sleep, eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, not smoking, and spending a lot of time with their family, as well as practicing their faith as the top methods of staying healthy. Second to these 4, they valued personal wellness, stress management and regular exercise.
II. Politics and Medicare. As you can imagine, these centenarians were alive in the America of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the creation of the Medicare system of health care. Most centenarians felt that Medicare has been good to them and will continue to be there for them. Only a small percentage (9%) felt dissatisfied with their Medicare coverage. Others felt that though Medicare is sufficient for them now, it may not serve future centenarians as well.
III. Culture. Many of the centenarians studied said they would like to return to the 1950’s as the best decade in America to live in. They felt that the refrigerator was the most revolutionizing technical invention. When asked what celebrity they would most like to spend time with, near-centenarian comedian, Betty White, was the top pick, with Queen Elizabeth second, and Oprah Winfrey and the President somewhat down the line. Obviously, maintaining a good sense of humor is also key to living long and healthy!
IV. Technology. Have you noticed how your grandparents, or older family friends, tend to shy away from using more modern technological devices like microwaves or SmartPhones? There’s a reason for that. Only a small minority of centenarians think that the internet, microwaves and personal tech gadgets have any significant impact on their life. They spend very little time on the internet, only rarely use email, only 3% have used Facebook, and only 1% have read a book on a Kindle or as an eBook.
What this says to researchers is that people who have lived longer spend most of their time performing tasks, the “old-fashioned” way – cooking their meals in the oven or on the stove, reading “real” books and newspapers and interacting more with other people rather than spending time interacting with technological devices. Recently researchers out of Brigham Young University have also cited from their studies that good “face-to-face” social contacts with friends, neighbors, colleagues improve your odds of long survival by 50%.
So there you have the findings from the 4 key areas of one of the latest 100@100 studies. If I were to sum the results of these areas up and make a recommendation to you, I would tell you that adopting a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise, staying connected to friends and family and maintaining a good sense of humor and outlook on life, are key to staying healthy and living longer.
The Sicilians have a saying that they confer to people on birthdays and other special occasions – Cent’anno. Literally, the words translate into “100 years” but really are a wish for the person to have “health for 100 years”. If you haven’t already done so, hopefully you’ll start today to incorporate many of the practices of the 100@100 centenarians into your own life. And one day you, too, can blow out all the 100, or more, candles on your birthday cake!
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Natural Health News
Study 100@100, http://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/news/rel2011/UHC-100at100-Results-Report.pdf
Relationships are Important for Longevity http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/07/29/relationships-are-important-for-longevity/16177.html