12 Fascinating Comparisons of Baby Boomers and Centenarians

How do baby boomers and centenarians differ with regards to their attitudes, opinions and lifestyle choices?

That is the over-arching question that researchers conducting this year’s 100@100 survey, an annual survey sponsored by UnitedHealthcare, a private health insurance company.

As the lifespan of the average American continues to increase (it currently ranges from 76 years for men, to 81 years for women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) more and more people will live to be old enough to have their 100th birthdays announced by Willard Scott on the Today Show.

Experts from the U.S. Census Bureau estimate that, in the year 2050, there will be over 600,000 centenarians living in America alone.

As things stand today, however, being alive for more than a century is still somewhat of an anomaly. As a society, we tend to look upon these individuals with a certain amount of awe, wondering how these men and women reached such a significant milestone. (Discover the Unexpected Secret to Successful Aging)

What makes 100-year-olds different from the rest of us?

For the past eight years the 100@100 investigation has selected 100 people who’ve celebrated their 100th birthday, and asks them a series of questions about their daily lives, as well as their opinions on issues ranging from the state of the nation, to what to look for in a life partner.

This year, the survey was expanded to include a group of baby boomers ranging in age from 60 to 65-years-old. The purpose of adding this younger generation was to see where the thoughts and ideas of the two groups diverged.

Here are 12 interesting comparisons of baby boomers and centenarians, uncovered in the 100@100 survey:

  1. Did you (or do you) expect to live to be 100 years old? Staying alive for more than a century caught most centenarians by surprise (29 percent believed that they would see their 100th birthday) and would also come a shock to the majority of baby boomers (only 1 in 5 feel they will live to be 100-years-old).
  2. Do you regularly use the Internet? Unsurprisingly, only 18 percent of those older than 100 regularly access the Internet, compared with a whopping 82 percent of boomers. In both groups, those who did use the web were most likely to engage in either online search activities or email communication.
  3. What is your favorite physical activity? Both boomers and their 100-year-old counterparts were most likely to get their blood pumping with a good walk or hike (73 percent and 55 percent, respectively).
  4. Should you look for a life partner with similar interests? Many centenarians believe that having a life partner who shares your hobbies, interests and political views is a key to maintaining a good relationship, while boomers appear to place little value on sharing similar attitudes with a significant other. Forty percent on 100-year-olds emphasized the importance of having the same hobbies and interests, and 31 percent said sharing political opinions was ideal, compared to 22 and 19 percent of boomers, respectively.
  5. Do you wish you had taken more risks in life? Neither group seemed to feel that they should’ve lived their lives on the edge a little more. Only 12 percent of boomers and 5 percent of centenarians said they wished they had taken more risks.

Continue reading to discover what 100-year-olds regret about their lives, and how many of them have read “Fifty Shades of Grey”…

The Surprising Truth About Baby Boomer Health
5 Ways to Overcome Mid-Life Regret
10 Things That Make You Feel Old–And What to Do About Them

  1. What is “Gangnam Style?” Nearly half of the boomers surveyed correctly identified “Gangnam Style” as a pop song, while almost 80 percent of centenarians had no idea what researchers were talking about when they mentioned the name of Korean artist, Psy’s, viral hit.
  2. Which famous person would you want to share a meal with? Both boomers and centenarians really want to break bread with Betty White. Sixty percent of 100-year-olds and 75 percent of boomers cited the former Golden Girl as their ideal dinner guest. Both groups also agreed on their least-preferred pick: Kim Kardashian.
  3. Have you read “Fifty Shades of Grey?” 100-year-olds seem to have better things to do than thumb through the pages of this popular romance. None of the centenarians surveyed said that they read “Fifty Shades,” and only 16 percent had even heard of the book before. However, nearly 1 in 10 boomers admitted to cracking the spine on the controversial tome.
  4. What is your favorite band? Sixty-four percent of people who’ve lived to be 100 have a penchant for listening to the melodies of The Andrews Sisters, including the popular, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” For those in their 60s, it’s Beatle-mania all the way. Seventy percent of boomers said that they’d take tunes sung by John, Paul, George and Ringo, over anything else.
  5. Do you regret how you’ve lived your life so far? As it turns out, a longer life seems to produce fewer regrets. Half of centenarians reported that they would not change anything about the way they lived their lives, while only 29 percent of boomers agreed with that particular sentiment.
  6. Which important events in U.S. history do you remember best? For centenarians, President Kennedy’s assassination and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor were the most memorable events in U.S. history in their lifetime. Kennedy’s murder and the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City topped the list of memorable moments for boomers.
  7. What wisdom would you impart to today’s younger generations? “Respect for elders” and “courtesy” topped the list of lessons that younger generations need to learn for both boomers and centenarians.

Of course, the viewpoints of 100 centenarians and 300 baby boomers can’t truly be generalized to fit the entirety of their respective peer groups. But, the answers given by each aging cohort reveal thought-provoking (and, in some cases, entertaining) insight into how our attitudes and opinions change (or stay the same) as we get older.

Are You Healthier Than a 100-Year-Old?
10 Secrets That Aging Parents Keep
How The World’s Oldest Person Spent Her Last Day

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor


Ganaisha Calvin
Ganaisha Calvin5 years ago

thanks for sharing

Tim C.
Tim C5 years ago


Tim C.
Tim C5 years ago


JL A5 years ago

worth thinking about

Patricia H.
Patricia H.5 years ago

interesting article

Alan Lambert
Alan Lambert5 years ago

Fascinating Article.

Jaime A.
Jaime Alves5 years ago


Ken W.
Ken W5 years ago


B Jackson
BJ J5 years ago

Well, I flunked this test - but then I've never been accused of being in the normal (?) group.

Liliana Garcia
Liliana G5 years ago

Great research idea but I sense the thirty plus year interval was too much. Maybe the cohorts in their eighties should have been included as an intermediate group. Other questions to ask: On the cutural side, ask about favorite book or movie and on the life philosophy side: What would they change in their immediate life if they had the power to do so? One last question: What is the greatest discovery they witnessed in their lifetimes? Thanks for this interesting piece.