Near the end of an extraordinary lifetime, at the beginning of another working day, Dr. Abraham Greenberg of Victoria , B.C. walks into his office and prepares to examine an elderly woman who is thirty years his junior.
On a warm, soft Florida morning, in the stables of a thoroughbred stud farm, Fred Hooper talks gently to a yearling colt that he is training for his first race on the turf at Toronto 's Woodbine raceway.
On set with Mr. Tom Spears in Calgary
Elizabeth Klint cooks, cleans and takes care of her 70 year old retired son. Once a week she teaches Sunday school � the children she teaches could be her great-great-great-great grandchildren.
These are but three members of an astonishingly rich and growing clan � the family of centenarians. For these �expert survivors,� extreme age has brought undiminished activity and reward � even as it has compelled them to overcome the accumulated grief that is the burden borne by all of our oldest old.
Dr. Abraham Greenberg
Dr. Greenberg is 101 years old, Fred Hooper is 100, Elizabeth Klint is 101. They are part of the fastest-growing segment of the North American population � a burgeoning nation that is the subject of intense academic study, psychological and medical research. Today, there are 70,000 centenarians; by 2050, their numbers may reach four million, to be joined by tens of millions of other citizens aged 85 and over.
�Hundred-something' profiles a half-dozen active, working centenarians in Canada and the United States . It explores the mechanisms that enable people like these to endure into their second century � the psychological, physical, medical, social and spiritual dimensions of extreme longevity.
What is the basis of human survival? How do a small percentage of men and women manage to overcome not only the physical debilities of age but the emotional toll of their years? And what lessons do these �expert survivors� hold for the rest of society?
We meet not only the centenarians themselves, but also the scientists and researchers at the University of Georgia 's prominent Gerontology Center who have conducted the most comprehensive study of the oldest old. Led by Dr. Leonard Poon, the Georgia study has interviewed more than 300 centenarians in greater depth than any previous academic program.
At Harvard University, Dr. Thomas Perls's New England Centenarian Study is overturning our previous ideas about survivorship � discovering that, as people enter their nineties and surpass the threshold of disease that claim most of their peers, blacks live longer than whites, and men live longer than women.
In Canada , we will learn about �ageism� and find out how it affects our relationship and understanding of the oldest old. At McMaster University in Hamilton , Ontario , Dr. Ellen Ryan's unique work on �elderspeak� is showing how interaction and even conversation between older and younger citizens greatly affects the health and well-being of the elderly.
At Ontario 's Waterloo University , Dr. Michael Stones is conducting trailblazing research into the sexuality of aging and the role that physical love plays in survivorship.
The centenarians of �Hundred-Something' will take viewers far beyond the cliches and preconceptions of extreme old age. As active, productive citizens, they are exemplars of our potential, warnings of our weaknesses and lighthouses of our hopes � members of a unique nation that will accept any of us as its citizens, if only we learn to reach its shores.
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