At 100 years old, some are tweeting, using email and clutching their Ipods
Vancouverite News Service®
MINNEAPOLIS – Dump those conventional stereotypes of aging – a new survey shows centenarians are using Twitter to stay chirpy.
Evercare, a major U.S. health care coordinator, has released its fourth annual survey which challenges conventional wisdom about aging, revealing among other findings that some centenarians, 3 per cent, use Twitter to stay connected with families and 28 per cent are into eating organic foods to stay healthy.
Additionally, 30 percent currently volunteer their time as a way of staying engaged.
The survey findings support the belief held by many medical professionals that a person’s longevity is based primarily on lifestyle choices rather than genetics.
Dr. Mark Leenay, senior medical director and vice president of clinical affairs at Evercare by said: “ They are using new technologies, staying abreast of news and
current events, and engaging in social networking – all of which help to prevent chronic illnesses and contribute to greater longevity.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population age 65 and older is expected to more than double between 2000 and 2030. Additionally, there are more than 84,000 centenarians in the United States today, and that number is projected to increase seven-fold to 580,000 by 2040. Evercare has more than 1,400 centenarians in its health plan membership today.
In a new twist, this year’s Evercare 100@100 Survey compares the lifestyles and beliefs of centenarians with those of college seniors, because more and more of these young Americans are expected to reach their 100th birthday. The survey identifies the similarities and differences between these two groups of “seniors” when it comes to staying “connected.”
When asked about the current economy, 30 percent of centenarians, who were in their 20s during the economic collapse of the 1930s, believe the current recession is more severe than the Great Depression, while only 16 percent of 20-something college seniors feel the same. Both centenarians and college seniors overwhelmingly agree (73 percent and 81 percent, respectively) that they, rather than U.S. policy makers and business leaders, are ultimately responsible for their own economic futures.
The majority of centenarians (89 percent) and college seniors (93 percent) believe owning a home is still an important part of the American dream.
Predictably, college seniors report using the latest technology to stay connected with friends and family, but a surprising number of centenarians are also embracing tech trends. Twenty-one percent of centenarians go online with 12 percent using the Internet to share photos, 5 percent watching TV shows and 4 percent downloading music.
In addition to the 3 percent who say they use Twitter, 10 percent of centenarians use e-mail at least once a week. If stranded on a deserted island, 2 percent of centenarians
say they would want an iPod with them.
Centenarians report they actively engage in a wide range of physical activities to maintain their health.
Fifty percent are walking or hiking, and 8 percent ride a bike, while 3 percent choose to run. Centenarians also exercise their brains through regular, mentally stimulating activities, including 19 percent who play a musical instrument or music video game.
Talking to friends and family is the primary outlet for both centenarians and college seniors looking to deal with stress. As a secondary stress reliever, 63 percent of centenarians said they “do something to help others,” while 78 percent of college seniors report they resort to “me time” or “downtime” to manage their stress.
Additionally, one-third of centenarians report they are currently engaged in volunteer work in their communities, a finding matched by 50 percent of college seniors who report they are actively volunteering as well.
If given the opportunity to choose from a list of celebrities to invite to dinner, 63 percent of centenarians and 72 percent of college seniors would invite Bill Cosby – the No. 1 and No. 2 pick among those generations respectively. Cosby received only 1 percent fewer votes than college seniors’ top pick Jennifer Aniston, who received 73 percent of their vote.
Showing their contemporary sports knowledge, 34 percent of centenarians also report familiarity with NBA all-star LeBron James.
GfK Roper interviewed 105 centenarians (ages 99 and older at the time of the interview) between April 13 and April 22, 2009, obtained from a non-probability sample of older Americans. The poll did not include older respondents whose potentially frail condition would not allow them to participate in a telephone interview. Therefore, the responses from the centenarians should be interpreted as being indicative (not statistically representative) of the views of healthy and articulate Americans in this age range.