• By Vivien Williams

Centenarians: The Oldest of the Old are Living Longer

January 26, 2016

older woman's hands Right now in the United States, there are more 100-year-olds alive than ever before. In a recent report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that this sector of the population is increasing in number and they are living longer. Dr. James Kirkland is the director of Mayo Clinic's Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging. He says there are many reasons for the increase in the number of centenarians.

Watch Dr. James Kirkland 

Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Kirkland are available in the downloads.

Why people are living longer:

  • the development of sewage and water systems
  • the discovery of antibiotics
  • better obstetric care
  • improved treatment of  age-related diseases
  • better health education

Dr. Kirkland also says some aspects of why and how people live to be over 100 remain a mystery. "People 100 years old and older seem to be resilient and more indestructible. We want to study and learn what we can about 100-year-olds, especially their genetics, to see if there are treatments we can develop to try to increase health span for the general population."

Dr. Kirkland's research focuses on ways to delay or prevent age-related diseases in order to extend people's health span, which is the period of life when one lives free of disability, pain, dependence and chronic disease.