Throughout the industrialized world, the subgroup of the elderly who are 100 years old or older is growing at a more rapid rate than any other segment of the population. Consider the following statitics:
In 1900, there was on centenarian for every 100,000 people in the U.S.
In 2000, the rate was one centenarian per 10,000 people, or a total of about 50,000 people.
By 2010, the centenarian population will quadruple, reaching 200,000.
By 2050, the centenarian population will reach 1,000,000 - more than 90 percent of whom will be female.
Many geriatric researchers have turned their attention to the over-100 group to discover the causes of extreme longevity. The New England Centenarian Study, which began at Harvard Medical School and now has relocated at Boston University School of medicine, has a number of interesting findings.
Reports of specific geographic locations where many people are said to live to the age of 150 are either complete fabrications or gross exaggerations.
The oldest documented person in recorded history was 122 years old at her death in 1997.
Family studies suggest that longevity tends to run in families. Most centenarians have large numbers of siblings.
There is a relationship between late motherhood and centenarian status.
Whatever the cause of extreme longevity, the increasing number of centenarians is likely to change developmentatlists' understanding of old age.
According to the New England Centenarian Study, 30 percent of America's oldest old have acute minds, while 20 percent or more may have short-term memory problems but still are getting by just fine. Some studies indicate that people in their 90s and older have better overall health than those 10 or 20 years younger. And, while the number of people 65 years of age or over is growing rapidly, the number of people in that age group who are disabled or in nursing homes is increasing much more slowly. It is reported that many of these individuals have managed to avoid major illnesses like heart disease. It is reported that over their whole lifespan, these people have seldom spent much time with a doctor.
Related Learning Links
Looks at aging from the perpsective of a woman who is 102 years of age with good physical and mental health.
A site developed by Lynn Peters Adler, J.D.--a lawyer--who has devoted her career to the concerns of centenarians, longevity, and positive aging. The site includes "Centenarians This Millennium," where she interviews 12 Centenarians. These are very strong, healthy and activie people, ranging in age from 100 years and over. The site also has much information on centenarians, boo excerpts, stories, tributes, etc. Includes a Centenarian Registry where you can include the names of people you know 99 years of age or older. A great site!
At the Archon Genomics X Prize press conference held at the New York Academy of Medicine, Dr. Thomas Perls, the Director of the New England Centenarian Study stated, “This competition brings us one step closer to realizing the promise of truly personalized medicine. With the selection of centenarians as the genomic pioneers, this competition emphasizes the tremendous opportunity to discover ‘wellness’ genes and therefore learn how to prevent disease and live a long, healthy life.” This study was originally housed at Harvard University, School of Medicine.
For starters, eat nuts and socialize, says longevity expert Dan Buettner.
Our genes harbor many secrets to a long and healthy life. And now scientists are beginning to uncover them.
Research on the lifestyles of Centenarians.
The study is a part of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Longevity Genes Project, which includes more than 500 Ashkenazi Jews ages 95 and older, and 700 of their children.
Ecuadorians Descended from Sephardi Jews Carry a Mutation That Blocks Growth Hormone, Shields Against Cancer
A scientific study published by the National Academy of Sciences.Here, in a cohort of Ashkenazi Jewish centenarians, their offspring, and offspring-matched controls, they studied the inheritance and maintenance of telomere length and variations in two major genes associated with telomerase enzyme activity, hTERT and hTERC. Research scientists demonstrated that centenarians and their offspring maintain longer telomeres compared with controls with advancing age and that longer telomeres are associated with protection from age-related diseases, better cognitive function, and lipid profiles of healthy aging.
Healthy aging may be possible with some genetic help.
Centenarians, individuals who have lived for 100 or more years, have lived the longest, experienced the most, and know what it takes to live a long, meaningful life.
The oldest living woman in Scotland -- 109 -- says the secret to her longevity is this: Eat your porridge and avoid men. Make sure you watch the video.
A slide show.
Dan Buettner-How to Live to Be 100+
The Georgia Centenarian Study-documentary (1 hour 7 minutes)
Meet Georgia's Centenarians
Centenarians of Azerbijan-Part 1
Centenarians of Azerbijan-Part 2
Authentic Wisdom of America's Centenarians
China has 54,000 Centenarians
Living Forever: The Longevity Revolution
Cayman Island Centenarians
Dominica Records a New Centenarian
Does the Village in China Hold the Key to Living Pass 100?
Centenarians in Barbados
Centenarians of Costa Rica-Secrets of Long Life
Blue Zone: Costa Rican Centenarians
Longevity: Journey Into the Blue Zone
Cognitive Functioning in Centenarians
Ted Talk: The Secret Grail of Longevity
The 969 Year Old Man
Centenarians of Azerbijan-156 Years
The 256-Year Old Man
256 Year World's Oldest Man-Li ching Yuen-Herbs He Took
View the videos on Centenarians and the Related Learning Links. What does the information about centenarians suggest to you about social, political, and economic policies in the future?