NEW YORK (Reuters) - Celebrities and hip adults aren’t the only people flocking to Twitter, the social-networking site. Even centenarians have learned to tweet.
Three percent of U.S. centenarians questioned in a new survey said they use the service that allows users to send short text messages, or tweets, of up to 140 characters at least once a week to keep in touch with their friends and family.
Another 10 percent sent emails to stay connected, 12 percent shared photos on the Internet and 4 percent downloaded music from the web.
“These centenarians are really inspiring because they are starting to embrace newer trends and newer technologies,” said Sherri Snelling, senior director at Evercare, one of the nation’s largest care coordination programs, which commissioned the survey.
“We know that technology has definitely given us new avenues to stay connected to family and friends, and that is one of the key themes we see in terms of living longer,” Snelling said in an interview. “People that are living to 100 and beyond and staying alert and vital are staying socially connected.”
The link to new technology is multigenerational with the centenarians’ grandchildren and great-grandchildren introducing them to the latest gadgets.
The results of the survey of 100 centenarians challenge the stereotypes of aging and show that getting older does not have to be a barrier to keeping up with the newest trends.
Forget passing the day in a rocking chair. Fifty percent of centenarians keep fit by walking or hiking, 8 percent prefer cycling and 3 percent break into a jog or run. One percent said they have tried Nintendo’s Wii Fit.
More than a quarter said they chatted on a cell phone at least once a week.
To keep their minds as agile as their bodies, 19 percent played a musical instrument or turned to a musical video game for entertainment or a mental workout.
Nearly 65 percent would dine with comedian Bill Cosby if given the opportunity to invite a celebrity to dinner.
If stranded on a desert island, 2 percent said they would want an iPod with them.
Snelling said the findings are changing perceptions about getting older.
“Being older doesn’t mean that you are not going to stay in tune with these new technologies,” she explained. “It definitely is a lesson to all of us that keeping your brain engaged by doing Twitter or going online, or whatever, is going to be helpful to living longer.
Evercare said it believes the results support the belief that longevity is based primarily on lifestyle rather than genetics.
More than 84,000 centenarians are living in the United States today. The number is expected to increase to 580,000 by 2040, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.