Secrets of Healthy Centenarians

Over the past century, the average life expectancy has increased 30 years.  Due to advanced technology in medicine and vaccinations, healthier life styles, and numerous other factors, the older population is continuously growing.  The question is, how does one live years beyond the average life expectancy of our time and live to be 100 years or older, as a healthy centenarian?  To find out the secrets of a healthy centenarian, one must go beyond simply comparing the lifestyle and habits of centenarians to the average person, who lives to be about 80 years old.

One of the most common themes across centenarian research is genetics.  Research has shown that more than half of centenarians have close relatives who have also lived a long life, and that a person’s life expectancy is composed of 70% genes and only 30% environment. In order to better understand the quality of life of a 100 year old compared to an 80 year old, however, one must look even further than genetics.

Some studies have found that centenarians age at a slower rate than most people and therefore live longer. Women who complete menopause at an older age than average or who have a child after the age of 40 may be examples of this slower aging rate. Since it is not very common or natural for women to bear children after age 40, one’s ability to do so may indicate her reproductive system and body is aging slowly.

On the other hand, some scientists believe that genes play a less important role in determining longevity. In a recent study, performed by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Institute for Aging Research, over 200 adults between the ages of 95 and 107 were assessed using a questionnaire to identify personality traits.  The results indicated that having a positive, optimistic outlook on life and opening up instead of keeping issues bottled up could play a vital role in living a longer, healthier life.