100@100: A Look into the Lives of Centenarians Today


Living to 100 used to be rare, but not any more. Centenarians are one of the fastest growing segments of the US population. The 2010 U.S. Census logged approximately 53,000 people 100-plus; another half-million “senior seniors” are projected to join the ranks by 2050.

As the centenarian population has been growing, UnitedHealthcare has been conducting an annual survey of people age 100 and beyond. Here are some highlights from the most recent, 8th annual survey results.

Living to 100


The survey gathered insights into the lifestyle choices that, along with good genes, helped centenials reach this milestone.

Be Active

  • Almost all centenarians (98%) say that keeping their minds active is one secret to healthy aging; exercising and staying mobile are almost equally important (96%).  Physical activities of the current 100 include walking or hiking weekly, strength-training at least once a week and doing cardio workouts indoors once or twice per week.
  •  Centenarians eat nutritious meals, get more than eight hours of sleep per night and attend a social event every day.
  • Nearly one in three agrees that maintaining your sex life contributes to healthy aging.
  • Sixty-seven percent report laughing or giggling at least once a day.

Make Relationships Last

  • Ninety-seven percent of centenarians believe friends and family have the biggest impact on their lives and provide them with the most support.
  • More than 33 percent report maintaining a friendship for over 75 years! That these friendships survived before email, Skype and cell phones makes the achievement even more impressive.
  • Regarding successful marriages, top tips from centenarians are having fun together (84%) and being honest (85%) – even when it hurts. Many centenarians believe it’s important to share the same faith (56%) and hobbies (40%) as your spouse. Not so many (31%) think that it’s important to share the same political views.  (Should we infer that centenarian couples don’t talk politics?)

The Lives of Centenarians

The survey also looked at the lifestyles and attitudes of centenarians today.

Adopting New Technologies

  • While 90 percent of centenarians still choose home landlines for communicating, 28 percent are also using cell phones, 18 percent have Internet access and 17 percent use email.
  • Among Internet-connected centenarians, 39 percent use social media and 22 percent download music.
  • Fifty percent believe that new communication technologies improve relationships by making it easier to keep in touch.


  • What would the centenarians have done differently if they’d known they were going to live so long? Fifty percent replied, “Not a thing.”

Society Today

  • Sixty percent of centenarians believe that the way we treat one another is deteriorating. They’d like to teach Millennials a thing or to about “respect for elders” and “courtesy.” Hmph.

Wish List

  • If they were given the opportunity to invite 18 famous people to a family dinner, those surveyed put Betty White at No. 1 on their guest list – for the fourth year in a row. (How about Justin Beiber? Eighty-nine percent would not invite him.)

Read More

Click here to see the complete 8th Annual UnitedHealthcare 100@100 Survey Fact Sheet 2013.


Are you a centenarian or do you know any?  What’s your take on the survey results? 


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