Excerpt from Daily Cures, Wisdom for Healthy Aging by Connie Mason Michaelis
Nationwide, the centenarian population has grown 65.8% over the past three decades. In contrast, the total population has increased by 36.3%over the same period. The 100-year-olds are gaining on us! Do you aspire to be a member of this auspicious group? A recent US News and World Report article stated that centenarians have certain things in common. The first thing they have in common is that 82% of them are female. (Gentlemen, keep reading!) They stated that “Women are more social than men. Studies have found that staying socially connected predicts greater life expectancy. If you are social, it may reduce stress levels because you can talk about your feelings.” It seems there is a therapeutic benefit from socialization. It may not just be a matter of the Y chromosome but a lifestyle. In other words, touchy, feely equals healthy!
The second related commonality is that centenarians live with others. Over two-thirds of men and women that reach 100 are living in a communal setting. The reasons cited are the opportunity for socialization, emotional, mental, and medical support. This message has become my mantra. Living at home alone is not necessarily a healthy choice. Isolation may lead to depression, inactivity, poor diet, and eventually, accidents and falls. Isolation is a menace to active, vibrant living. The third similarity of centenarians is that 85% of them live in urban areas. It seems that living in a city provides more mental stimulation (museums, theater, symphony, etc.), more physicians, more social networking, and more transportation. The fourth shared commonality is living in the Midwest. My guess about the reasons behind that is that Midwesterners are known for their friendliness and support of Elders.