May is Older Americans Month, and I'm being bombarded with suggestions for ways to celebrate it.
Personally, I'm too busy getting ready for Saturday's Kentucky Derby party to partake in any old people's wingding. But if you're in that kind of mood, here are some reasons to celebrate the good news that we are all living longer.
First, take a look at these remarkable numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. They were shared by Dr. Stephen Jones, director of the Center for Healthy Aging at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, Conn.
When the U.S. government conducted its first census report in 1790, fewer than 2 percent of the population was 65 or older. In 2010, 13 percent was 65 and better. In 1900, the average life span had climbed to 47. In 2010, average life expectancy was 78.7. In 2012, the number of Americans living to age 100 was more than 53,000, but by 2050, Jones predicts that number will jump to 800,000.
A survey of centenarians for United Health Care found that few have regrets. When asked what they would have done differently if they knew they would live to be 100, 50 percent of centenarians polled said, "Not a thing."
Centenarians also were asked what they could have done to make their lives better. One-third said nothing. Another third wished they had spent more time with loved ones. Thirteen percent wished for better health. And only 6 percent said they wish they had more money. That's a retirement planning lesson.
What can you do to age well and make retirement better? Jones has these suggestions:
- Control stress.
- Laugh often.
- Eat well.
- Sleep like a baby.
- Keep moving.
- Use your brain -- or you'll lose it
- Stay close to friends and family.
- Treat each day as a gift.
"That's why they call it the 'present,'" Jones says.