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8 States in America With the Most Centenarians

Dana Larsen
By Dana LarsenSeptember 6, 2013

Does geography have something to do with longevity? We recently featured a post on the top places where people lived the longest in the world and decided to research the places with the most centenarians in the U.S. You might be surprised which states house the oldest Americans.

We all know there is not really a fountain of youth. But looking at the areas of the United States that have the largest numbers of centenarians can shed light on factors that can increase human longevity. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, life expectancy has grown steadily to an average of 75 years in the United States, which is up from 67 years, just 15 years ago. And there are certain areas of the United States with larger percentages of old Americans.

Genetics, diet and lifestyle all influence your aging potential; but people statistically live longer in certain ares of the world. Well the same goes for the U.S. Out of the 50 states, discover which ones have the most people who live to the three digits.

8 States in America With the Most Centenarians

Good, healthy living is what it is all about. Of course there are other variables that play a role when it comes to living long lives. I recently heard a quote by an anonymous author that resonated with me: “Enjoy getting old. It is a privilege denied to many.”

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Here are the states where people are most likely to celebrate their 100th birthday, according to U.S. News and World Report:

1. Connecticut

In 2010, 930 people had reached centenarian status in Connecticut. Approximately 0.026% of the population has reached the 100-year milestone today. This southernmost state in the New England region of the northeastern United States offers a rich cultural history, beautiful green landscape, median household income and good education attainment. It’s a place where people “like to grow old” according to the state’s website.

2. Hawaii

It’s no surprise people enjoy growing old in this tropical paradise. Hawaii’s picturesque islands had 1.4 million people in 2010, and 306 of them were centenarians. This popular tourist destination offers a warm climate with a “breeze smelling of flowers” according to a viewer’s comment from U.S. News Travel’s “Top Places to Visit” series. The laid back lifestyle, ocean views and healthy fish cuisine make it a great place for older Americans.

3. Iowa

0.028% of the residents in Iowa are over 100 years. There are 846 centenarians, according to the most recent Census. The state offers a median cost of living, high education attainment rate and low crime rate, according to “Best Places to Live 2011” by J.C. Grant. The agriculture and nice mentality make it an enjoyable place to plant roots.

4. Massachusetts

1,520 people age 100 and older reside in the historical state of Massachusetts, which accounts for 0.023% of the population. Since 50,258 Massachusetts residents are in their 90s, Massachusetts is projected to have one of the largest oldest populations for years to come.  This New England state boasts colorful sports fans, a melting pot of cultural cuisine and one of the nation’s leading museum destinations. Massachusetts offers a rich culture for with many picturesque destinations, including Martha’s Vineyard, plantations and old war sites.

5. New York

“New Yorkers” are some of the most devoted residents in the nation—including the 4,605 centenarians—which account for 0.024% of the population. Since New York has one of the largest concentrations of people in the world, this doesn’t come as a big shock, however—don’t underestimate the power “New York! New York!” has on the residents. Offering not only the museums, Broadway productions and rich culture of the “bright lights, big city,” New York also offers a lot of recreation, state parks, fine cuisine and family neighborhoods that make it a fun place to grow old.

6. North Dakota

Centenarians make up 0.032% of the population in North Dakota, which is actually the biggest proportion of any state. This means there are more than three centenarians for every 10,000 people. This leading producer of sunflowers offers clean air, a sparse population, beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife and a rich history—all things that contribute to the state’s ‘pleasure’ factor for aging Americans.

7. Rhode Island

This small, picturesque state that offers nature trails and coastal views has 247 centenarians, and could have more in the decades to come as it is among the states with the highest percentages of people in their 80s. In fact, 0.024% of Rhode Island’s residents are age 100 and older. The state offers a plethora of rich history, state parks and thousands of acres of wildlife refuge.

8. South Dakota

Centenarians make up 0.03% of the population in South Dakota’s neighboring areas. According to Census data, there were 240 centenarians in 2010. South Dakota boasts a low crime rate, affordable cost of living and “nice” people, according to Sperling’s Best Places survey. The scenic state offers many national parks, including Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial and Badlands National Park. This midwest state offers a slow paced life with a rich culture for residents.

 Summing It All Up: What are the Ingredients for Longevity?

Each of the states listed above are very different, so why do they have the most centenarians? Well a combination of genetics and leading a happy, healthy lifestyle are the most important factors that influence aging. This means each of the states listed above offer their own recipe of longevity, whether it’s a lively or laid back culture; healthy or cultural cuisine options—or stimulating activities and socializing opportunities. After all, it is all about finding the right ingredients for the lifestyle you and your loved ones’ desire.

Factors such as having a cultural environment that reinforces a wide range of healthy lifestyle habits, from diet and exercise to social relationships and psychological well-being all influence how we age. And of course, an appreciation and support for seniors is also important when it comes to aging gracefully into the three digits.

What do you think is the secret to these societies’ success with health and longevity? Do you think geography plays a role in longevity? America is known to have poorer health habits than other countries; do you think this influences life expectancy? Let us know in the comments.

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Dana Larsen
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