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Centenarians-Living to 100 Years and Beyond

Updated on July 22, 2013

I thought it fitting to write my 100th article (hub) about centenarians.

Centenarians are those of us who live to be 100 years old or more. What I found when researching this topic is that this is one of the fastest growing age groups of the American population according to a study done in 2005. Centenarians are growing over 4% a year a having already seen a 51% increase from 1990 to 2000.

I'd like to share some of the interesting pieces of this 81 page document that was a Research Project sponsored by the Society of Actuaries Committee on Life Insurance Research entitled "Living to 100 and Beyond: Search for Predictors of Exceptional Human Longevity".

  • Specifically, the study focused on the availability and quality of computerized online genealogies of long-lived individuals and then cross-checking them with other internet resources such as the Social Security Administration (SSA) Death Master File (DMF) and the early U.S. censuses. This allowed them to isolate 991 alleged centenarians born in the United States from 1875-1899.
  • This report presents some preliminary studies on predictors of exceptional human longevity, including familial factors and early-life living conditions. There study suggests a link between exceptional longevity and a person's birth order. They found that first-born daughters are three times more likely to survive to age 100, compared to later-born daughters of higher birth orders (7+). First-born sons are twice more likely to become centenarians compared to sons having birth order between four and six. There is also a profound sex difference in the effects of birth order on human longevity. For sons, this dependence has an unusual U-shaped form, with highest longevity chances for both the first-born and the last-born (9+) sons.

  • The comparison of households where children (future centenarians) were raised (using data obtained through linkage of genealogies to early U.S. censuses) with control households drawn from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) for the 1900 U.S. census suggests that a farm background (farm ownership by parents in particular) and child residence in the Western region in the United States may be predictive for subsequent survival to age 100. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that lower burden of sickness during childhood (expressed as lower child mortality in families of farm owners and families living in the West) may have far-reaching consequences for survival to extreme old ages.

  • It also was found that life expectancy at age 80 depends on the month of a person's birth: individuals born in January live longer lives than persons born in other months and in April-June in particular. This periodicity repeats in every studied birth cohort starting from birth year 1885 to 1899. However, by age 100 this dependence of survival on month of birth fades out, indicating that centenarians indeed represent a selected population.

In a nutshell, if you're the first-born girl born in January, growing up on a farm in the American West, you've got a good shot at this 100th birthday gig. (To my cousin, Pam......two out of three ain't bad.)

Happy 100th Birthday....and many more!
Happy 100th Birthday....and many more!

Another study, found here, indicates that

"by 2050, according to midrange projections, there could be over 800,000 Americans who celebrate the century mark. Studies show the same trend in other industrialized countries and recently in China. Indeed, demographers are now counting the number of supercentenarians, people age 110 and over."

A 1999 book entitled "Living to 100" by Thomas T. Perls mentions these characteristics that centenaries do not have:

  • They don't smoke or drink heavily. Those who had smoked didn't do so for long.
  • They gained little or no weight during adulthood. Being overweight makes people more vulnerable to many life-threatening illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and stroke.
  • They don't overeat. Okinawan centenarians consume 10%-20% fewer calories per day than typical Americans. The elderly Okinawans consume less fat too. (About 26% of their energy intake comes from fat, compared with 30% or more for Americans.)
  • They eat many fruits and vegetables. The Okinawans have an average of seven servings a day.

  • They get regular physical activity for as long as they are able. Strength-building activities, such as climbing stairs or lifting small weights, are especially beneficial because they help slow the age-related loss of muscle mass.

  • They challenge their minds. Stimulating mental activity may help prevent age-related thinking and memory problems by stimulating communication between brain cells. Particularly among elderly men, decreased cognitive performance is strongly associated with mortality.

  • They have a positive outlook. Centenarians seem to have personalities that shed stress easily. An inability to control emotional stress has been linked to memory loss and heart disease.

  • They are friendly and maintain close ties with family and friends. Not surprisingly, positive relationships are associated with lower rates of depression. And lower rates of depression may result in lower rates of heart disease.

    Many researchers think that people could add up to a decade to their lives if they emulated the centenarians.

100 Yr Old Twins That Look Amazing!

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    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Very enlightening hub. I learned a lot. Thank you.

    • KCC Big Country profile image
      Author

      KCC Big Country 8 years ago from Central Texas

      It is very fascinating Dolores! I often wonder if they ever had any ideas along the way that they would live to be over 100, or are they like the rest of us that seem to assume we won't, but would be ok with it if we did? I just wonder if they think differently. It is terribly fascinating to me.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I read a very cool article on active, healthy centenarians which said that most of them claimed that people always mistook them for younger, and that they were late bloomers. Some research points to an aging gene, that some 100 olds actually have aged slower than other people.

      All quite fascinating.

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 8 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      Many kudos back!

    • Laughing Mom profile image

      Laughing Mom 8 years ago

      Candie, you're my kinda gal.

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 8 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      I'll be 1 year past half next month!! Yikes!! So we need a cabana-boy wanted application.. with a combination as a bartender? He's gonna need a lot of vitamins cuz that boy's gonna be busy!! Maybe we should hire a spare? Forget hire, them boys is gonna be beggin to work for free!! Ralwus does rock doesn't he!!

    • KCC Big Country profile image
      Author

      KCC Big Country 8 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks ralwus! The challenge was fun!

    • profile image

      ralwus 8 years ago

      Well I am over half way there anyway. LOl Be a miracle if I can make it all the way. I am number 6 in my family. Congradtulations on completeing the hefty challenge girl! you rock and this hub was most fitting.

    • KCC Big Country profile image
      Author

      KCC Big Country 8 years ago from Central Texas

      Margaritas are a must! But, I'm thinking more along the lines of sunglasses and some good aloe vera sunblock. Maybe a cabana boy to fan us.

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 8 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      And Ben Gay.. we're gonna need some margueritas! This is sounding like it's gonna be a long haul!

    • KCC Big Country profile image
      Author

      KCC Big Country 8 years ago from Central Texas

      James, glad you enjoyed it. I learned quite a bit in doing the research on the topic myself.

      Candie, you're probably right! HEB was probably loving it. Denture adhesives.....lol. Depends come to mind.

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 8 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      I think the beeping by the market was their grocery item scanner, could be there was a charge added to someones purchases because of your car.. they'd better check their receipts!! Could be big bucks off their debit cards!

      We can compare denture adhesives and other pharmaceuticals!

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      I am afraid I don't have a chance. In fact, I'm surprised to still be here now! This Hub is very interesting and you brought out a lot of facts I had not heard before. Thanks!

    • KCC Big Country profile image
      Author

      KCC Big Country 8 years ago from Central Texas

      LOL @ Dineane! You'll be fine, you can join the rest of gals and we can all go shopping and picking up younger men. LOL

      LM.....It takes me 3 hrs to the Red River, so I know it's more than 4...but may be more like 5.

    • dineane profile image

      dineane 8 years ago from North Carolina

      "They found that first-born daughters are three times more likely to survive to age 100"

      That's apparently the only thing I have going for me. According to the rest of your hub, I've already lived too long :-)

    • KCC Big Country profile image
      Author

      KCC Big Country 8 years ago from Central Texas

      Again, you could be the exception, GT! Look at George Burns.

    • goldentoad profile image

      goldentoad 8 years ago from Free and running....

      I'm assed when it comes to longevity. I eat potato chips and drink too much beer.

      congrats on the hundred. I doubt I'll even make it to that!

    • KCC Big Country profile image
      Author

      KCC Big Country 8 years ago from Central Texas

      LMAO.....LM...you're like a cat with 9 lives. You'll probably be around with Candie and I. But we're not letting you do the driving.

      Regarding your idea.......sure, give it a whirl...it can't hurt.

    • Laughing Mom profile image

      Laughing Mom 8 years ago

      i doubt I'll make it halfway there. But maybe I can fit 100 years of living into the 50 or so years. That would work, wouldn't it?

    • KCC Big Country profile image
      Author

      KCC Big Country 8 years ago from Central Texas

      Did anyone watch the twins in the video? They are so cute! I hate that the video ends just as they were about to give advice to the rest of us!

    • KCC Big Country profile image
      Author

      KCC Big Country 8 years ago from Central Texas

      Hey Ethel! There are always exceptions to the rule AND according to some of that research I did for this, you can add 10 years to your life by following a better diet and exercise regime.

      Wooo hoooo Candie.....I'm going to need someone to talk to when I'm in my 100s, looks like it'll be you!

      D.Cortez: My husband had the same reaction. He decided he's screwed. He actually took an online thing one time that predicts the DATE of your death. He had like a month to live! How sucky is that?! Obviously, he's still kicking several years later. (He's only about to turn 43).

    • D Cortez profile image

      D Cortez 8 years ago from California

      That was a very interesting hub, but according to your research, I don't stand a chance at breaking even 90. Oh well, who wants to live forever anyways.

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 8 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      According to your fabulous research.. I have many favorable qualities that will lend me well over 99 years..possibly 101..I should start planning on how to be a burden to my son and his grandkids.. wow, what a wierd thought!

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Well if I follow most of my family I will be lucky to make it out of my fifties. I have decided to take after my maiden aunt who was stubborn through and through and made it to 89. God bless her :)