The elixir of long life: tips from centenarians

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Anti-ageing supplements, drinking teai, a 'superfood' diet: which is the answer to living a longer and healthier life? We take a look at how the oldest living people in the world tackle the ageing process.

Turning 100 is a big deal. It's an occasion celebrated by very few and one that even the Queen feels obliged to honour with a personal message of congratulationsii. In Australia, more than 4000 people were aged 100 years and over (centenarians) in 2011iii. Some Australians even earn themselves a place on the exclusive list of super-centenarians: people aged 110 years and overiv. These people have felt, experienced, witnessed and still remember many things that most Australians would only have the opportunity to read about; such as significant events like two World Wars, the coming of the age of powered flight, the climbing of Everest and the arrival of television.

Learn life tips from those that have been there. University researcher, Dr John McCormack, claims a positive attitude is a common characteristic in centenarians.

The secret to ageing gracefully

Australians generally enjoy a higher life expectancy compared to many other countries around the world. As of 2012, Australia is among the 10 countries with the highest rates of centenarians per capita worldwide. Health advancements, disease control, better sewerage, greater education about lifestyle choices, and access to clean water play a part in Australians living longerv. Data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reveals that in 2009, our nation was ranked equal fourth with Israel of the OECD countries with the highest life expectancyvi. While there's an assumption that 'good genes' play a part in longevityvii, our centenarians have some of their own opinions. According to Norah Collie, a centenarian from Queensland, a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice a day and a low-sugar diet keeps the doctor at bayviii. Eileen Bourke, a Victorian woman who turned 100 in July 2012, said a get-up-and-go attitude has been her answer to healthy ageingix. For Mrs Bourke, a thermos of hot coffee and watching a game of football keeps spirits spritelyix.

In Japan, 101-year-old Tadashi Kozakai, attributed his good health and longevity to the physical activities of dancing and stretching. Mr Kozakai's daily exercise routine involved a variety of bending and stretching his knees, shoulders, neck, and finger exercisesx.

Maintaining life-long routines and habits may be the trick to ageing gracefully for some centenarians, and for others it may also be as simple as putting a smile on their dial every dayxi. According to Dr John McCormack, a senior lecturer in health science and 'centenarian' expert at La Trobe University, a positive attitude to life is a common trait with centenarians. Rather than focusing on the things they may not be able to do anymore, they look to what they have done and what they can do going forwardv.

His research reveals some common characteristics found amongst people who live beyond the age of 100 years include a good work ethic; living life in moderation; adapting to change with a positive attitude; and keeping close relationships family and friendsix.

However the matter of fact is that despite living a long and healthy life, each one of us still face the inevitable chances of leaving or losing your loved ones. And in reality, there are still chances that people could be diagnosed with unexpected illnesses regardless of whether a healthy lifestyle is maintained. This could be the single reason why you may want to consider protecting your lifestyle and your loved ones if the inevitable or the unexpected were to happen to you. Allianz Life insurance offers Life, Critical Illness and Permanently Unable to Work covers that could help provide you or your loved ones with financial security in the event of an accident, illness or death. Start planning ahead by reading more about the benefits of Allianz life insurance and get a quote within minutes online today.

i Ni, M. 2010, 'Tea: The Elixir of a Long Life', Huffington Post, viewed 2 July 2013,

ii Australian Government 2012, 'Anniversary Messages', viewed 2 July 2013,

iii Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011), 3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics, viewed 2 July 2013,

iv Department of Health and Aging 2008, Record Number of Australians Living to be more than 100 Years of Age and New Phenomenon of "Super-Centenarians" - 110, viewed on 3 July 2013,

v Egan, J. 2012, 'Australian centenarians: how to live past 100', viewed 2 July 2013, Australian Geographic,

vi Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 'Health Status', viewed 2 July 2013,

vii La Trobe University 2012, 'How centenarians age gracefully', viewed 2 July 2013,

viii Bruce, M. 2013, 'Long lives and loves recollected', Courier Mail, viewed 2 July 2013,

ix Anderson, D. 2012, 'A golden age for topping the century', The Age, viewed 2 July 2013,

x Ward, C. & Livingstone, A. 2009, 'Chatting With Japan's Centenarians: What's the Key to Longevity?', ABC News, viewed 2 July 2013,

xi Body & Soul, 'Life lessons from centenarians', viewed on 2 July 2013,,18453