The Swedish Centenarian Study: a multidisciplinary study of five consecutive cohorts at the age of 100

Int J Aging Hum Dev. 1997;45(3):223-53. doi: 10.2190/XKG9-YP7Y-QJTK-BGPG.


Centenarians born 1887-91, who lived in southern Sweden were asked to participate in this multidisciplinary study (N = 164). Of the survivors (N = 143), 70 percent agreed (N = 100). The purpose was to describe the population from physical, social, and psychological points of view; to characterize centenarians with various health conditions and diverse degrees of autonomy and life satisfaction; and to identify factors at 100 years that predict future survival.

Results: Eighty-two percent were women, 25 percent lived in their own home, 37 percent in old age homes, and 38 percent in nursing homes. Socioeconomic status showed a similar distribution compared to nationally representative data. Fifty-two percent managed activities of daily living with or without minor assistance. The incidence of severe diseases was low. In 39 percent a disorder of the circulatory system was found. Thirty-nine percent (women) and 11 percent (men) had had at least one hip fracture. Twenty percent had good hearing and good vision. Twenty-seven percent were demented according to DSM III-R criteria. Means on cognitive tests (word-list, digit-span, learning, and memory) were lower compared to seventy to eighty year old groups. The variation in performance was extremely widespread. Personality profiles (MMPI) indicated that the centenarians were more responsible, capable, easygoing and less prone to anxiety than the population in general. Extensive neuropathological investigation revealed no major diseases or large lesions but mild through multiple changes. RESULTS suggest that centenarians are a special group genetically. A causal structure model emphasized body constitution, marital status, cognition and blood pressure as particularly important determinants for survival after 100 years.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over / physiology*
  • Aged, 80 and over / psychology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Social Behavior
  • Survivors
  • Sweden