100-Year-Olds' Secret to Long Life: Stay Aware of the World

The key to long life is a vivid interest in the world
around you, a survey of 100-year-olds suggests.

That means people born when Teddy Roosevelt was president are watching music
videos, ordering at Starbucks, and even listening to iPods, according to the
poll from Evercare, a division of UnitedHealth Group focused on the health care
needs of Americans aged 50 and older.

"We are finding older Americans are staying engaged and staying on top
of what is going on in the world," Sherri Snelling, director of caregiving
services at Evercare, tells WebMD.

Evercare's second annual telephone poll of 100 people aged 99 and older
isn't a scientific study -- it's a snapshot of the attitudes of American
100-year-olds. Eighty-seven percent of survey respondents were white; 70% still
lived at home; 95% were 100 or older; and 70% were women.

The point of the poll, Snelling says, is simply to look at what successful
aging looks like.

"When we think about the different aspects of staying involved in the
world around us, these nuggets of information are helpful to us," she

Some of those nuggets:

  • 31% of centenarians have watched reality TV shows.

  • 27% of centenarians have watched MTV or music videos.

  • 1 in 7 centenarians has played video games.

  • 68% of centenarians get their news from television, although 40% read

  • 11% of centenarians have ordered from Starbucks.

  • When asked whom they most trust to tell the truth, 34% of centenarians
    chose their minister, rabbi, or priest -- just ahead of their doctor or nurse
    at 28%.

The most poignant finding is that 100-year-olds value their memories more
than their physical comfort. When asked what they would like to change the
most, 34% said "better memory" while 27% said "less aches and

What was the most memorable day of their lives? Their wedding day, said 28%
of centenarians.

On the other hand, 106-year-old Virginian Martha Hanks says there's no
special secret to long life.

"I didn't do anything special," Hanks tells WebMD. "I just lived
a normal life."

By Daniel DeNoon
Reviewed by Louise Chang
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