How old is old? Centenarians Say It Starts in Your 80s; Kids Say Your 40s

Published 10:16 am Thursday, April 30, 2015

MINNETONKA — As the “graying of America” continues in the United States with nearly 84 million Americans expected to reach age 65 or older by 2050, new data from UnitedHealthcare shows that the definition of “old” depends on who you ask. The 10 th annual UnitedHealthcare 100@100 survey finds that 60 percent of centenarians say they do not feel old — and those who do, say they did not start feeling old until age 87, on average. Ten-year-olds, however, say people start to get old at age 46, on average.

UnitedHealthcare’s annual 100@100 survey polls 100 centenarians each year to examine their attitudes and opinions on health, family, likes and dislikes, and more. This year, to mark the 10 th anniversary of the survey, UnitedHealthcare also polled 100 10-year-olds to offer a comparison between younger and older Americans. UnitedHealthcare is the nation’s largest business dedicated to the health and well-being needs of seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries, serving more than 15,500 of the more than 50,000 centenariwans nationwide through its portfolio of Medicare plans.

When asked what age they truly feel, more than half (52 percent) of 100-year-olds say they feel younger than their actual age. On average, centenarians report feeling more than two decades younger at 79 years old. Reflecting back, on average centenarians felt:

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—the most attractive at age 31;

—the most energetic at age 34;

—the happiest at age 44;

—the healthiest at age 46;

—the wisest at age 49; and

—the most content at age 56.

Come On, Get Happy: Centenarians Say a Positive Attitude and Health are Linked

Keeping a positive attitude is the most important factor in staying healthy, according to a quarter of the centenarians surveyed. The next most popular answers are eating healthy (21 percent), exercising regularly (10 percent), and keeping busy (9 percent).

Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of 100-year-olds say they see themselves as being very positive people — which makes them more optimistic than the 10-year-olds surveyed. Just 44 percent of 10-year-olds say they are very positive people, but the younger generation may catch up: nearly half of centenarians (47 percent) say it gets easier to maintain a positive attitude with age.

“Year after year, we hear from centenarians that there is a correlation between healthy aging and a healthy mindset,” said Rhonda Randall, D.O., chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions. “It’s a good reminder for us all to take care of our mental, emotional and social health — in addition to our physical health.”