Centenarians' Secrets

What You Can Learn From People Who've Lived 100-plus Years
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Blowing out 100 birthday candles is more possible than ever. According to the U.S. National Institute on Aging, we're on the brink of a watershed moment in history. Quite soon, there will be more people on Earth who are 65 than 5.

And longevity is reaching new records. The oldest documented person in 2012 was 116 -- that means she was 45 years old during the attack on Pearl Harbor, 73 years old when the first man walked on the moon, and already 93 when the Berlin Wall fell.

So what does it take to live to 100? According to study conducted by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, it's mostly a matter of genes. But science is also showing that even small efforts toward taking care of our health, such as exercise and diet, can have a striking effect on how long we live. To help boost your own odds, be sure to take advantage of 7 tips that'll help you live to 100.

But what about quality of life after 100? We've gone around the U.S. to find centenarians who are showing us the way -- to find out what makes life sweet on the other side of 100.

Our centenarians offered great insight. Here are some of their tips:

  • Wake up each day and just get busy.
  • Don't dwell on the tough times.
  • Bacon? You bet!
  • Find a good doctor.
  • Decide to be content.
  • Serve others.
  • Dance.
  • Forgive.

This advice might not be anything we've not heard before, but it takes on deeper meaning when it's from those who have lived long enough and well enough to know what they're talking about.

Meet the Centenarians:

Ruth Schmidt Climer, 103
Don't dwell on the tough times.

Françoise (Frances) Desneige Marquis, 101
There's just so much to do!

Dona Rosa, 103
Love each other and forgive.

Louise Seely, 102
Learn from your challenges.

Bill Frank, 103
He'd do it all again.

Kitty Mosely, 103
Enjoy every day.

Dorris T. O'Dell, 102
Try not to worry about regrets.

Simo Radulovich, 102
You need a sense of humor.

Carol O'Dell

Carol O'Dell is the author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter's Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir, about her experience caring for her mother through Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and coronary diseases. See full bio