| Tue, May 07, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

What Boomers Can Learn From Centenarians

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

100at100 musicWhat do the musical tastes of the time tell you about a generation? Consider this from UnitedHealthcare’s eighth annual 100@100 survey released this month:

  • Centenarians say their favorite musical group is The Andrews Sisters.
  • Boomers say theirs is The Beatles.

This may not be earth-shattering news. But a song title from each group’s list of No. 1 Billboard hits may shed some light on the differences that set these two generations apart:

  • The Andrews Sisters’ “I Wanna be Loved” (1950) is a gentle wish.
  • The Beatles’ “Love Me Do” (1962) is a direct request.

Centenarians belong to a generation known for self-sacrifice and respect for authority. Boomers, on the other hand, have a reputation for high expectations and independence. They want it all—right now.

How might these generational identities contribute to health and well-being? The 100@100 survey results may provide some clues. You be the judge.

Healthy Living

Boomers may have marshaled in the health and fitness era in the 70s, but they don’t always practice healthy behaviors. Centenarians are more likely than 60- to 65-year-olds to eat nutritiously balanced meals (86 percent vs. 77 percent). More centenarians (66 percent) than boomers            (54 percent) also get more than eight hours of sleep each night.

Boomer behavior surpasses that of centenarians when it comes to getting regular check-ups. Boomers are more likely than centenarians to see their doctor regularly (83 percent vs. 73 percent). They are also more concerned with managing stress (86 percent vs. 76 percent for centenarians).

The generational differences continue when it comes to some aspects of emotional health. More 60- to 65-year-olds (88 percent) than centenarians (72 percent) say it’s very important to continue to look forward to each day. More boomers than centenarians also say it’s important to maintain a sense of purpose (79 percent vs. 57 percent).


Centenarians may be a bit “old-fashioned” when it comes to their ideas about what makes a successful relationship, but they agree with boomers on the basics. Both groups rank having fun together, communication, honesty and respect at the top of their lists.

About two-thirds of centenarians say it’s very important to maintain traditional gender roles in marriage, compared with less than half of boomers. Centenarians also value sharing the same interests or hobbies more than boomers (40 percent vs. 22 percent), as well as having the same political views as their spouse (31 percent vs. 19 percent).

For centenarians, relationships of all kinds are the best part of life. Spending more time with family and loved ones tops their list of what has made living to 100 most enjoyable.


Looking back at their 100 years, 50 percent of centenarians would not change a thing if given the chance. The highest-ranking “regret” on their list is not taking better care of themselves, cited by 11 percent of respondents.

In contrast, just 29 percent of 60- to 65-year-olds say they wouldn’t change anything about their lives up to this point. Nearly as many (26 percent) say they would save more money. Another 18 percent would take better care of themselves. Just 6 percent said they would focus more on family and friends.

Interestingly, 33 percent of centenarians say their long lives could have been even better if they had spent “more time with my spouse or other loved ones.” It seems one can never get enough of the people one loves.

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