Friday, June 13, 2008

Centenarians Reflect on Life Choices

Centenarians Are Generally Content with Their Lives

Most centenarians are satisfied with the lives they've led, content with their current health and well-being, and well prepared for the future, according to a survey conducted by Evercare, a leading provider of health plans for frail, elderly, disabled, and chronically ill individuals in the U.S.

Sixty-one percent of respondents indicated they would not have done anything more with their lives, while 78% said there was nothing they would have done less of. Some respondents said they would have traveled more and worked less, while others said they would have spent more time with their families. Some admitted they should have spent less time sitting around and doing nothing, exercised more, saved more money, or pursued more education.

When asked what the best periods of their lives were, ages 20 to 39 ranked highest. Approximately three-quarters of respondents said that faith and spirituality play a central role in how they are preparing and approaching for the future, with an equal number of respondents believing in life after death. Respondents said the biggest changes in society over their 100 years of life have been in transportation and technology, and in people's values and attitudes toward one another.

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It's not exactly a window into the tools of longevity attainment, but valuable nonetheless. The insight centenarians have from their unique perspective offers wisdom about what we ought not to miss in our own lives so we, too, can age contentedly, which is much more important than seeing a specific number of sun revolutions chosen due to a number system that is arbitrarily based on groupings of ten.

I find it interesting that so many centenarians (1/4) are not religious and don't believe in life after death. They're by no means a majority, but the value/prevalence of the belief in immortality and that control can be relinquished to an omnipotent being, which is thought to play a role in stress reduction, seems to have been overstated in prior anecdotal reports. My guess is that it reflected the general belief system of their cohort, and as time goes on, fewer and fewer members of any cohort will have been raised religiously.

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