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Survey Finds Centenarians Eating Organically, Volunteering, and Some Even Tweeting Past 100

Holistic Approach to Staying Connected Emerges as Key to Longevity
MINNEAPOLIS – Evercare by UnitedHealthcare released today its fourth annual Evercare 100@100 SurveyTM, which challenges conventional stereotypes on aging by revealing, among other findings, that some centenarians (3 percent) use Twitter to stay connected with friends and family,and 28 percent eat 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.

“Evercare believes that the best health care involves treating the entire person and not just the disease,” said Dr. Mark Leenay, senior medical director and vice president of clinical affairs at Evercare by UnitedHealthcare. “These centenarians support that philosophy by taking a holistic approach to life choices beyond nutrition and exercise. 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.”

Staying Connected – The Economy
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.

Staying Connected – Technology
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.

Staying Connected - Health, Wellness, Community
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.

Staying Connected – Pop Culture
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.

Survey Methodology
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.

GfK Roper also conducted a total of 1,036 online interviews between April 13 and April 22, 2009, with U.S. residents age 20-22 who expect to graduate from a four-year college or university in 2009.

About Evercare by UnitedHealthcare
Evercare by UnitedHealthcare is one of the largest coordinators of health care focused on helping individuals living with disabilities, long-term or advanced illness. Evercare serves people through Medicare special needs plans, hospice care, and caregiver support programs. Evercare's integrated care model delivers personalized health care services that help people stay healthy and independent in the most appropriate setting of their choice. For more information about Evercare visit

Note to Editors: For the full report of the 2009 Evercare 100@100 SurveyTM and the 2008, 2007, and 2006 surveys, visit