Commentary

Centenarians Credit Lifestyle Choices To Longevity Rather Than Genetics

Centenarians Credit Lifestyle Choices To Longevity Rather Than Genetics

Admittedly an incredibly small niche, but there will only be more centenarians in the coming years for marketers to consider.  

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The third annual Evercare 100@100 Survey, recently released, finds that the keys to longevity are staying connected to family, friends and current events. The poll shifts conventional stereotypes on aging by revealing that some of the oldest Americans are using the latest technologies to keep up and stay close: talking on cell phones, sending emails, "Googling" lost acquaintances, surfing Wikipedia and even online dating.

According to the 2007 U.S. Census Bureau data, there are more than 84,000 Centenarians in the United States, and that number is projected to increase seven-fold, to 580,000, by 2040.

Created to be a cultural snapshot of 100 Americans turning 100 or older in 2008, the survey also polled those in other generations to compare and contrast the generational findings on topics of maintaining relationships and staying independent. The other generations surveyed included:

  • G.I. (ages 84-98)
  • Silent (ages 63-83)
  • Baby Boomers (ages 44-62)
  • Gen X (ages 30-43)
  • Millennials (ages 20-29).

Among the key findings of the 2008 survey:

  • Centenarians say staying close to friends and family is most important to healthy aging (90 percent). Keeping the mind active (90 percent) and laughing and having a sense of humor (88 percent) also ranked high for living longer.
  • 19 percent say they use cell phones to keep in touch with friends and family. Other technology used to stay in touch includes: e-mail (7 percent), sending or receiving digital photos by email (4 percent), and text messaging (1 percent).
  • As many Centenarians as Baby Boomers (3 percent) say they have dated someone they met on an online dating site.
  • Twelve percent of Centenarians surveyed say they have used the Internet and some have "Googled" someone they have lost contact with (2 percent), or have visited someone's personal Web site (2 percent).

In keeping with typical voting habits in which older voters regularly turn out at the polls, 70 percent of Centenarians surveyed say they are very likely to vote in this year's presidential election, as compared to only 60 percent of Millennials surveyed.

Among other key findings:

  • Centenarians surveyed chose three African Americans: Bill Cosby (63 percent), Tiger Woods (62 percent), and Oprah Winfrey (58 percent), as their celebrity dinner companions. Bill Cosby was the favorite dinner guest of all generations surveyed.
  • Centenarians said that the most unwelcome dinner guests were Britney Spears (53 percent) and Howard Stern (47 percent) whom Centenarians singled out to specifically "not invite."
  • Apple CEO Steve Jobs had the least name recognition among 100-year-olds (74 percent did not know who he was). However, 51 percent of Millennials and 48 percent of Gen Xers didn't know who he was either.
  • Four percent of Centenarians surveyed have gotten a tattoo with a loved one's name or something that reminds them of a loved one... respondents from the G.I. Generation ("up and coming" Centenarians) are the least likely of all generations surveyed to wear their love on their sleeve (3 percent).

81 percent of Centenarians say that maintaining a sense of independence is one of the keys to healthy aging. While younger generations consider the ability to drive and travel key factors in feeling independent, those 100-year-olds surveyed feel that independence comes with:

  • The ability to take care of themselves on a daily basis (94 percent)
  • Staying in good health (93 percent)
  • Being able to make their own financial and health decisions (89 percent)
  • An increase in a sense of spirituality (85 percent) 

Dr. John Mach, a geriatrician and chairman of Evercare, said "After three years of conducting this survey... common themes emerge when it comes to the keys to living longer... our lifestyle choices, our spirituality and our interest in staying engaged in the world around us."

Please visit Evercare here for the complete report.

 

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