Positive Attitude Key to Delay Feeling Old

The 10th annual UnitedHealthcare 100@100 survey finds that 60% of Centenarians say they do not feel old—and those who do, say they did not start feeling old until age 87, on average.

On average, Centenarians report feeling more than two decades younger—79-years-old. Reflecting back, on average centenarians felt:

  • the most attractive at age 31;
  • the most energetic at age 34;
  • the happiest at age 44;
  • the healthiest at age 46;
  • the wisest at age 49; and
  • the most content at age 56.


In last year’s survey, when asked what stage in life they remember most fondly, Centenarians expressed the most nostalgia for their 30s.

Keeping a positive attitude is the most important factor in staying healthy, according to one-quarter of respondents. The next most popular answers are eating healthy (21%), exercising regularly (10%), and keeping busy (9%). Sixty-one percent of 100-year-olds say they see themselves as being very positive people; nearly half (47%) say it gets easier to maintain a positive attitude with age.

“Year after year, we hear from centenarians that there is a correlation between healthy aging and a healthy mindset,” says Rhonda Randall, D.O., chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions. “It’s a good reminder for us all to take care of our mental, emotional and social health—in addition to our physical health.”

Eleven percent of Centenarians say their friends and family are key to maintaining a positive attitude. Nearly half (45%) say they would rather spend time with their family more than anyone else in the world. Eighty-three percent of Centenarians speak with extended family on a daily or weekly basis.

When asked who they thought of as a role model growing up, nearly half of Centenarians (46%) chose their parents over other family members, friends, teachers and celebrities.

The survey posed a number of questions about childhood to both Centenarians and 10-year-olds, and found some of the greatest differences between the two groups related to their experiences with money. More than eight in 10 Centenarians (81%) did not have an allowance as a kid, and of those who did (18%), more than half (56%) earned a dollar or less per week. Nearly half (48%) of 10-year-olds receive a weekly allowance, and more than two-thirds of them (80%) say they earn between $5 and $20.

Going out to eat with family was either a nonexistent or rare occasion for Centenarians when they were young (67%), but more than half of 10-year-olds (56%) reported they go out to eat with their family at least once a week.

When it comes to similarities between the two age groups, it turns out going to the dentist is a timeless ordeal for children. Centenarians’ greatest dislike as a kid was going to the dentist (24%), and their younger counterparts still feel the same way: 22% of 10-year-olds dislike most going to the dentist.

UnitedHealthcare’s annual 100@100 survey polls 100 Centenarians each year to examine their attitudes and opinions about health, family, likes and dislikes, and more. This year, to mark the 10th anniversary of the survey, UnitedHealthcare also polled 100 10-year-olds to offer a comparison between younger and older Americans.