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Rise of the 100-Year Olds

February 3, 2010

Brit Trogen

By 2050, the world population of 100-year olds is projected to reach 6 million people, forever changing our conception of what it means to be "middle aged," and making the senior's discount at Denny's a serious liability.

It's actually kind of thrilling if you think about it. There are over 340,000 centenarians living today, and if demographers are correct, they will be one of the fastest growing age groups in coming years, increasing 20 times faster than the general population.

The reasons are simple: medical advances leading to better treatments of heart disease and stroke (the leading causes of death in humans), and improved diet and lifestyle are the primary reasons our life-spans are seeing such a stretch. But there's also been a dramatic shift in attitude among doctors, encouraging them to aggressively treat illnesses in the elderly that they may not have in the past.

But in all of these encouraging facts, one thing stands out. If you're going to live to be 100, Japan is the place to do it. Aside from the fact that the Japanese treat their elderly with special dignity and respect, they have created an incredibly advanced robotics industry to cater to their elderly population — everything from robo-maids to robo-dogs and cats. And they'll be needing it too; by mid-century Japan is expected to have 627,000 centenarians, which is about 1% of their total population.

One hundred years. It really takes the pressure off, doesn't it?

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