• centenarians;
  • anxiety;
  • depression;
  • quality of life;
  • function

OBJECTIVES: To examine the physical, mental, and cognitive function of centenarians.

DESIGN: Descriptive study using a structured questionnaire and convenience sampling.

SETTING: Residential care facilities and private dwellings in Australia.

PARTICIPANTS: A convenience sample of 188 centenarians.

MEASUREMENTS: The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) screened for anxiety and depression. The Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living (Katz ADL) was used to assess functional status. The Quality of Life Scale was used to assess quality of life. The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) was used to screen for dementia. Structured responses were obtained for living arrangement, marital status, social relationships, and supports.

RESULTS: Centenarians had regular contact with friends (59%), neighbors (62%), and families (72%); 54% were religious and 43.5% had received social supports. Average MMSE and Katz ADL scores were 21.5 and 3.7, respectively; 45% had scores on the MMSE indicative of dementia, 10% indicated anxiety and 14% depression on the HADS. Participants with poor ratings of health experienced higher rates of anxiety and depression than their healthier counterparts.

CONCLUSION: In this convenience sample of Australian centenarians, anxiety and depression was relatively nonexistent, and most reported a high quality of life. This was despite objective deterioration in functional status, paralleling the aging process, and high dependence on others for everyday tasks. Potentially, this is suggestive of a unique ability within the sample to adapt to aging and its limitations.