The number of people living past one hundred doubled between 1980 and 1990, and the U.S. Census Bureau projects that the number of centenarians will reach one hundred thirty-one thousand by the year 2010. The projections show a doubling every ten years, with the number reaching eight hundred thirty-four thousand by 2050. The growth in this population segment is so large that it is now called “Generation C” (the “C” here represents the Roman numeral for one hundred). Demographers are now counting the number of supercentenarians, defined as people age 110 or older.

In the past, it was an unusual feat when someone lived to what was considered to be the old age of seventy. Today, the fastest-growing population in the U.S. is people eighty-five or older. These days, with all our modern advances in medicine, treatment, and our healthier lifestyles, more and more people are living longer and enjoying their good health well into their golden years. Scientific American reports that there are currently more than sixty thousand people nationwide who are more than one hundred years old, up dramatically from just a decade ago. Many experts on aging say they are surprised every day by the number of people who are able to live without assistance well into their nineties. According to a group of scientists at Oxford University, the ability of people to live to the upper limits of 120 years of age will be possible due to advancements in modern medicine.

Life expectancy: the upward progression of this is interesting.  When the Declaration of Independence was signed, life expectancy was just twenty-three years; in the 1800s, life expectancy was still under fifty years; in the 1900s we were expected to live into our seventies and eighties. Now it is predicted that anywhere from one to three million baby boomers will reach their one hundreth birthdays, while one in ten girls and one in twenty boys born today will live to be one hundred. Figures like these indicate that life expectancy is not set in stone. In fact, we have only scratched the surface of our understanding of the elements that impact it.

If I’d known I was going to live so long, I would have taken better care of myself.
Leon Eldred

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