Live at 100: iPods, fast food and surfing the web

They watch MTV, surf the web, have iPods, play video games and eat at fast-food restaurants.

And, no, they’re not your average United States teenager, but people over the age of 100 who shared the secrets of their longevity for a study released on Tuesday by Evercare, a health provider for the elderly in the United States.

”To stay in tune has health benefits,” said Sherri Snelling, director of Evercare, which questioned 100 centenarians for the survey.

”These centenarians do know about current trends.

”Whether or not they are utilising them, they understand what is current in our society.”

Apart from staying on top of the latest trends, those questioned said healthy lifestyles and religious faith kept them young. They also emphasised that maintaining the brain was also very important in keeping them going.

Snelling said the phone survey conducted in February provides an insight into the lives of a small but growing segment of the population.

”It gives us a snapshot and useful anecdotal information that will help us understand what it is that keeps Americans healthy, happy and independent in getting older,” she said.

Of the 70 women and 30 men questioned in the second annual survey, 70% still live at home and, like the rest of their fellow US citizens, say they follow the newest fads like reality television, video games and iPods, all the while keeping up with current events.

Sixty eight percent said they rely on television as their primary source of news while 40% said they still read newspapers. Only 10% use the radio for information.

According to the US Census Bureau, there are currently 80 000 centenarians in the United States, but that number is projected to increase seven-fold, to 580 000, by 2040 as the post-1945 baby boomer generation ages.

Of the centenarians questioned in the Evercare survey, 72% have eaten at fast food restaurants, 31% have watched reality TV shows and 27% have watched MTV or music videos.

One out of four (24%) have bought CDs while 15% have played video games; 6% have surfed the internet and 4% have listened to music on iPods. Eleven percent said they have tried coffee at Starbucks.

Health-wise, 23% say they have ever smoked cigarettes, and on average, those who quit did so 41 years ago. More than three quarters (82%) say that their dietary habits have improved or stayed the same as compared to 50 years ago.

On the political front, 34% believe Franklin D Roosevelt (1933-1945) was the best American president, followed by 15% who feel that way about Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) and 9% said John F Kennedy (1961-1963).

Former president Bill Clinton, at 5%, fared slightly better than the current President George Bush who was favoured by 3%.

As far as music, jazz, gospel and classical music were top picks by those questioned, although pop stars like Michael Jackson and the Dixie Chicks were also mentioned.

For 28%, the most beautiful day of their life was their wedding day, while the birth of a child or their 100th birthday tied for second place.

One adventurous centenarian, however, said his best memory was when he learned to fly at age 76. ‒ Sapa-AFP

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