U.S. centenarians have few regrets, stay active and social: poll

Thu May 2, 2013 8:03am EDT
 
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - America's centenarians are generally content and believe staying active is key to longevity, and some are even using social media and email to stay in touch with family and friends, a survey released on Thursday showed.

The poll that compared the attitudes and lifestyle of baby boomers to centenarians showed the country's oldest citizens were more content than their younger counterparts and put more emphasis on eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep.

"We are seeing clear differences in the generations," said Dr Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer of the healthcare company UnitedHealthcare & Retirement.

Although genetics play a big part, Randall said multiple factors contribute to longevity, including a positive attitude.

"Reflecting fondly and confidently on the choices they've made throughout their lives helps the longest-living Americans maintain a sense of satisfaction and well-being that's vital to healthy aging," she explained.

Census Bureau figures show that in 2010 there were more than 53,000 centenarians in the United States, an increase of 65.8 percent since 1980. By 2050 their numbers are expected to hit 600,000.

The survey of 100 centenarians and 300 baby boomers commissioned by UnitedHealthcare showed half of the elderly would not change a thing in their life, compared to only 29 percent of boomers.

Ten percent of centenarians said they wish they had taken better care of themselves and focused more on relationships. Only 6 percent would have wanted to have more money, compared to 26 percent of baby boomers who said they regretted they had not saved more.   Continued...

 
An elderly man walks with his cane amid shoppers at the Glendale Galleria shopping mall on Black Friday in Glendale, California November 28, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser