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UnitedHealthcare's 100@100 Survey reveals healthy aging secrets of centenarians

May 7, 2013

For the last eight years, UnitedHealthcare has offered a glimpse into the secrets of healthy aging through its 100@100 Survey - an annual poll of 100 centenarians. This year, the researchers also polled 100 adults between 60 and 65 to see whether their feelings on senior living changed during retirement, and the results revealed some surprising differences.

The two demographics seemed to differ on their outlooks on life. Approximately 33 percent of 100-year-old respondents said they were completely satisfied with their retirement lifestyle. Those who saw room for improvement focused mostly on wanting to spend more time with friends and family. Conversely, 26 percent of baby boomers wish they had saved more money. Researchers also found that many centenarians had positive feelings about their past experiences, with 45 percent of respondents saying they have good memories of their young adulthood.

"Reflecting fondly and confidently on the choices they've made throughout their lives helps the longest-living Americans maintain a sense of satisfaction and well-being that's vital to healthy aging," said Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement.

While the two groups may feel differently on some things, there's one aspect of retirement living they both agree on - staying mentally sharp is of the utmost importance. Specifically, about 98 percent of centenarians said that an active mind was the key to their longevity, while all boomer respondents felt that mental activity is key to healthy aging. Furthermore, 96 percent of centenarians and 98 percent of boomers said physical activity was important as well.

Gaining some insight into the healthy aging habits of those 100 and older will become increasingly important. Life expectancy has been steadily rising over the last decade, according to The New York Times, with an approximately 1.4-year jump between 1997 and 2007.