Money Talks, So Should You

What you can do to live to 100

Only 20 percent of longevity is tied to genetics — the rest is lifestyle decisions you can make for yourself.

Brian O'Connell
by Brian O'Connell, MainStreet contributor

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — More than 84,000 Americans can say they’re 100 years old or over, and demographic experts say the numbers of centenarians will grow significantly over the next decades.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, America will have 580,000 members of the 100-year-old-club by 2040.

Americans are living longer, at greater numbers. Between 2000 and 2010, the rate of Americans over 65 years old grew by 15.1 percent, the fastest rate ever.

READ: What's the most important step to a financially secure retirement?

How do you manage to live to 100, anyway?

Amelia House, a senior living provider based in Council Bluffs, Iowa, asked the same question and came up with some interesting answers.

Using data from the Census and United Health Group’s EverCare 100@100 Survey, the firm finds that long life is not all about family tree. While 20 percent of longevity is tied to genetics, 80 percent is based on “lifestyle” choices.

Among Amelia House’s tips for living to 100 and beyond:

  • Socialize. 80 percent of Americans over 100 talk to a family member or friend every day.
  • Eat well. 75 percent of centenarians eat a daily diet full of nutritionally balanced meals, and another 32 percent rely on organic food as a mainstay.
  • Get plenty of sleep. 75 percent of 100-year-olds get at least eight hours of sleep every night.
  • Laugh. 72 percent of 100-year-olds laugh every day – a lot.
  • Be at peace. 62 percent of centenarians pray or meditate every day

READ: Growing your emergency fund when money is tight

Some other traits to consider:

  • Volunteer. 17 percent do charity work on a regular basis.
  • Make like a teenager. 12 percent of 100-year-olds listen to music on an iPod or similar device. Another 11 percent watch YouTube, and 8 percent send text messages to friends and family members.

Amelia House says that centenarians tend to live in close-knit communities, suggesting that older retirees who live on their own are at greater risk of serious health issues. Another big help is living “close to nature,” where older retirees can walk, visit with friends and family in a healthy city and engage in light exercise.

 

Brian O’Connell has 15 years of experience covering business news and trends, particularly in the financial, health care and career management sectors. He has written 14 books and appeared on CNN, Fox News, CNBC, C-Span, Bloomberg, CBS Radio and other media outlets and in such publications as The Wall Street Journal and The Street.com. He is a former Wall Street bond trader.