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New clues on surviving to be 100 years old

March 11, 2016

"By understanding physical decline in functioning, caregivers can help maintain a high quality of life for the centenarian with appropriate support," said Cress, who also is a faculty member in the department of kinesiology in the UGA College of Education. "We developed a scale to assess physical performance, which has not been done before with centenarians. This can be used in future research to predict when people are going to start needing more help. They need to know how to plan, and society needs to know how to plan, too.

Although still rare, centenarians are a growing segment of the population. Poon notes there were an estimated 50,454 in 2000, but the number is expected to rise to more than 800,000 by 2050, making accurate information about their well-being increasingly important.

Poon added that one phenomenon that occurs all over the world is that women live longer than men. In industrialized countries such as the U.S., France and Japan, five to six women reach 100 years for every man who does. Only Sardinia has a one-to-one ratio. At the opposite extreme, 13 South Korean women live to be 100 for every man.

"Our next phase is to go to four different countries where there are different gender survival ratios and see why they are the same, why they are different and what makes women live longer than men," said Poon.

Source: University of Georgia