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Age 100: Bring it on

By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Posted: 3 pm ET

Whether you are looking at it as a retirement possibility or actually living it, reaching age 100 is a big surprise for most people.

Three out of 10 baby boomers turning 65 this year expect to live to be 100, while only a quarter of centenarians expected to live that long, according to a new survey from insurer United Healthcare.

The survey pointed out that the average lifespan in 1914 -- when a 100-year-old would have been born -- was between 50 and 60 years. Beating these odds makes 36 percent of centenarians feel blessed and 31 percent feel happy. Twelve percent are just surprised. Only 3 percent say they are lonely.

People in both age groups insist they feel younger than they are, with the average 65-year-old feeling 10 years younger and the average 100-year-old feeling like a kid of 83.

What's the secret to a long life? Boomers and centenarians have slightly different views. Some 91 percent of centenarians say that it is most important to stay close to friends and family, while 87 percent of boomers put maintaining a sense of independence at the top of the list. Only slightly more than half -- 54 percent of boomers and 55 percent of centenarians -- say that having financial wealth helps people live a longer life.

If you think you are going to live to be 100, a way to pay for long-term care should definitely be part of your retirement planning. The survey found that 43 percent of centenarians had a caregiver who helps with daily activities. Of those, 40 percent relied on a professional caregiver -- a nurse or in-home health aide. Some 22 percent were cared for by their children and 7 percent by a spouse or partner. Another 28 percent were cared for by someone else, such as grandchildren, neighbors and friends.

Financial issues top the list of things both centenarians and 65-year-olds find most troubling, with 23 percent of centenarians and 26 percent of baby boomers believing that a struggling economy and unemployment are the biggest challenges facing the United States. Some 16 percent of boomers see income inequality as the single biggest problem facing the country, but only 6 percent of centenarians feel that way. Here's how they feel about some other issues.

Which of the following do you think is the biggest problem facing the country?*

Centenarians Baby boomers
A struggling economy/unemployment 23% 26%
Mismanagement of natural resources 8% 5%
Health care 7% 11%
Social Security 7% 3%
Federal budget deficit 6% 13%
Income inequality 6% 16%

Source: United Healthcare

*This is a partial list from the survey.

Is the golden age of retirement close by?

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