Folks have long viewed living to 100 as being something that they will probably not achieve, even if longevity does run in their family. As it turns out, however, their chances of reaching that milestone might be greater than they had ever imagined. The number of Americans who pass the century mark will likely continue to increase, thanks among other things to improved health care.

America’s population of centenarians – the world’s largest – has roughly doubled in the past 20 years. It now stands at around 72,000 and is projected to at least double again by 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And this bureau projects that this figure will rise to 580,000 by the 2040.

These centenarians will, no doubt represent a very diverse group. But research indicates that they will tend to share one thing in common: certain “emotional traits” which might help them to navigate their way through life’s uncertainties as they age.

Several studies have concluded (on the basis of psychological tests) that centenarians display a high degree of both extraversion (outgoingness) and conscientiousness. The former would tend to keep them involved socially, something whose benefits should remain obvious, while the latter might translate into their being watchful of their health.

Also significant: they measure low on measures of neuroticism, a personality trait characterized by instability, anxiety and aggression, something that accounts for their stress level remaining relatively low.

And there is one more thing that centenarians tend to share in common. They utilize modern technology to a degree many might not expect. The “Evercare 100@100 Survey” concluded that many among the extreme elderly are taking a hint from a far younger generation, as they use cell phones and e-mail to conduct their personal affairs.

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