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Independence Day always makes me think of birthdays. It could be because American’s honor our beloved country’s birthday or because the Independence Day celebration reminds me of an amazing party. Either way, birthdays have been running rampant across my mind the last few weeks. With that being said, America is turning 236 this year and many of our seniors are going to be reaching milestone birthdays as well, however is it as big a deal now as it once was?

Years ago when someone reached their 100th birthday a massive celebration ensued with local papers, presents and maybe even a call to Willard Scott to get the centenarian on a Smucker’s label. Are those days gone? It seems like there is not as big of a celebration for those who reach this amazing milestone in their life. Are we becoming de-sensitized as a society or are there simply more people able to obtain the honor of being designated as a “centenarian”?

The truth is the latter. More and more citizens in America are reaching their 100th birthday and if you are a baby-boomer you are more than likely on your way to seeing yourself on that Smucker’s jar one day. New research from UnitedHealthcare looks at centenarians and baby boomers asking centenarians for their “secrets to aging success”. Centenarians point directly to socialization, exercise and spiritual activity as some of the keys to aging successfully. Almost nine out of ten surveyed centenarians say that they communicate with a family member or friend every day; over two thirds pray, meditate or engage in some form of spiritual activity; and just over half continue to have a regimented daily exercise routine.

Baby boomers match up fairly well when surveyed concerning their current habits. The same percentages of boomers as centenarians are in touch with their family and/or friends on a regular basis. Sixty percent surveyed say spiritual activity is an important part of their lives, and almost sixty percent of boomers exercise regularly.

The area that boomers are lacking is in sleep and diet. A whopping seventy percent of centenarians recall getting eight hours or more of sleep each night. Less than half of the boomers surveyed report getting that much sleep and just over two-thirds of boomers surveyed reported eating balanced meals regularly.

With more than 10,000 boomers turning 65 every day for the next decade, by the year 2050 the number of centenarians in the United States is expected to reach more than 600,000. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see that many American’s reach that amazing milestone? The honor of reaching age 100 should be celebrated and honored, whether there is one person celebrating or fifty. So call Willard Scott, bring on the balloons, cake and take as many pictures as possible. Celebrate growing older, it is a privilege denied to many!