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Three Characteristics of Centenarians

A growing number of Americans are living to age 100. Nationwide, the centenarian population has grown 65.8% over the past three decades, from 32,194 people who were age 100 or older in 1980 to 53,364 centenarians in 2010, according to new Census Bureau data. In contrast, the total population has increased 36.3 percent over the same time period. Centenarians in the United States are considerably different from the overall population.  LifeFone has collected three characteristics of centenarians.


Female gender – It is overwhelmingly women who live to age 100. In 2010, 82.8 percent of centenarians were female. For every 100 females age 100 or older, there are only 20.7 males the same age. Women tend to be more social then men. Studies show that staying socially connected predicts greater life expectancy. Gary Small, a professor on aging and director of the UCLA Longevity Center in Los Angeles, said, “If you are social, it may reduce stress levels because you can talk about your feelings and things that stress you out and it seems to help many people. If you need a ride to the doctor or you fall, they can take you to the hospital or help you find the best doctor.”

Living with others – Just over a third of both female and male centenarians lived alone in 2010, but, the majority of the oldest people live with others. As we age, life changes. One may lose their spouse or have a health condition that causes them to live with others. Being with other people helps you to stay connected emotionally, which can add to your life span.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle– According to the New England Centenarian Study (NECS), certain lifestyles tended to be common.

Not smoking – substantial smoking is rare among centenarians.

Maintaining a healthy body weight – Very few centenarians enrolled in the study were obese, and nearly all the men had body weights that were considered lean.

Regular Exercise – Regular exercise is proven to increase life expectancy.

Eating a healthful diet – A healthy diet looks different for everybody. Increased amounts of vegetables, lean meats and healthy fats are all excellent choices.

Centenarians are certainly a group of astounding individuals, each with their own particular rational for his or her longevity. However, when we look at the commonalities amongst this admittedly diverse group, a picture begins to emerge that may bring each of us a little closer to that 100-year milestone.

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