It’s no secret that today, more and more people are living longer, healthier lives. In fact, the group of people living to 100 years old, known as centenarians, is the fastest growing portion of the population! The U.S. Census Bureau put out a special report back in 2010 that revealed there were over 53,000 centenarians in the country. While that number is a small percentage of the population, the number of people 100 years old and up increased by almost 66 percent in the past 30 years.
In other countries, centenarians are even more prevalent than they are here in the States. In 2010 in the U.S., there were 1.73 centenarians per 10,000 people, while in Japan, for instance, the number almost doubled at 3.43 centenarians per 10,000 people. Worldwide, recent figures state that there may be more than 450,000 centenarians living today.
Common Characteristics of People Over 100 Years Old
Centenarians share some common traits. For instance, some of the similar characteristics of those who live to 100 years old include:
- Gender. The overwhelming majority of centenarians are female. In 2010, almost 83 percent of all people 100 years or older were women; for every 100 female centenarians, there were only 20.7 males the same age. This could have something to do with the fact that women tend to take less risks with their health than men, or, it could be because women are generally more socially active than men, which has been shown to increase life expectancy.
- Race. Over 82 percent of centenarians in 2010 were white, compared to around 12 percent of African Americans and 2.5 percent of Asians in the population.
- Living arrangements. The majority of those living to 100 years old resided with others. While around a third of centenarians lived alone in their homes, it’s more common to find this age group in assisted living facilities or living with loved ones.
- Location. The oldest citizens in the country tend to live in more urban areas, with almost 86 percent of centenarians in 2010 living in the city. This could be due to having more mental stimulation and access to better healthcare, along with more possibilities for social activities.
A Few of the Most Famous Centenarians
One of the most famous centenarians who was Jeanne Calment, who lived to be 122 years old. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, she was the oldest person on earth when she died in 1997. Ms. Calment dabbled in acting, appearing in the film Vincent and Me when she was 114 years old, and throughout her long life she also crossed paths with eccentric people like Vincent Van Gogh.
Some of the most famous centenarians in the entertainment industry include actors and comedians Bob Hope and George Burns, both of whom lived to be 100 years old. The iconic Irving Berlin, known for writing and crooning songs like “White Christmas” and “God Bless America”, lived to be 101. Another Hollywood legend who lived to be 100 was Hal Roach, a legendary film producer known for his comedies in the 1920s and 30s and for kick-starting the careers of Laurel and Hardy.
Finally, we can’t forget Grandma Moses, who lived to be 101. She began her painting career at age 77 and lived to see several years of great success in the art world.
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