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In the July 1999, Get Up & Go! centenarians are the subject for lifestyle writer Annette Winter. Lynn Alder was interviewed as a source for information on and about centenarians. Following is an excerpt from the story.

 Who's 100 and Why
by Annette Winter

...Make friends, influence your future
Interviews with centenarians reveal an absence of depression, a willingness to adapt to challenges, and a continuing involvement with life traits that have little correlation with income, social status, or formal education.

"They display a remarkable ability to renegotiate life at every turn," says Lynn Adler, J.D., who as founder of the National Centenarian Awareness Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating the country's oldest citizens, and author of Centenarian: The Bonus Years (Health Press, 1995) has surveyed several thousand 100-year-olds. "Some people will say 'I've lost my spouse, my friends, what's the use of going on?' Centenarians say 'I've lost my spouse, my friends, and I will go on: These people are really on track with themselves."

Even if you have lost people around you, you'll go on longer in the company of others. When [Robert L. Kahn, Ph.D.] tracked the social networks of study participants, he found that those who'd continued to form new friendships over their lifetimes retained social relationships well into their later years. Many were also involved with activities that were productive, but not necessarily moneymaking. A continuing involvement with life means "going where people are — whether a church, civic, or recreational group — and doing the things the group is created for," says Kahn.

Longevity as a way of life
The outlook for life at 100 grows brighter each day. We're already living longer and healthier than any previous generation — and enjoying it more. We can thank medical research for that: It has banished many killers and is even now creating new drugs, manipulating genes, and refining our diets to help prevent or cure whatever continues to ail us. "Our generation has the benefit of many more examples of people who are physically active in advanced age," says the 50-something Adler. "Those of us who are beginning our second 50 years can take heart and create our own plan for this wonderful time of life." As Adler points out, longevity itself is a 20th-century phenomenon. Who knows what the 21st century will bring?



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