It sounds incredible when you hear about someone living near or over 100 years of age. That’s a very long life compared to average age of people now days. According to a research health-related behaviors and genetics play a big role in longevity. People who reach age 100 or over are called centenarians and when a centenarian reaches the age of 110 or over, he or she is called a supercentenarian. Only one in thousands of centenarians would live longer than 110. It is interesting to know that over 85% of the supercentenarians are women and most Centenarians are short in height. But it is not clear why more females live longer. A few researches suggest the difference of longevity between males and females is due to difference in height. Men average about 8.0% taller than woman.
“My 80s were the best years of my life!” — Besse Cooper, 116
According to Dr. Thomas Perls, professor of medicine at Boston Medical Center, women are better able to deal with disease; they can develop an ailment but can survive and live for a long time, while men are more at risk to death from disease. So men who live over 100 years have to be much healthier to survive at extreme old age.
Perls said, “At any one time in the U.S., there are about 70 supercentenarians alive.” Researchers have discovered that people reaching 100 tend to fight age related illness better than the younger people who die because of these diseases. Supercentenarians not only live longer, they live healthier too, even though many of them spend a normal life eating whatever they want and not exercising regularly. Smoking and drinking is also part of life for many.
According to researchers, some of the supercentenarians have never even seen a doctor. A 2006 study revealed that around 41% of the supercentenarians were independent or required minimal assistance. Some took meds for hypertension; few had diabetes or had survived cancer.
“One large long-term study of people over 100 years old shows centenarians share many traits, tendencies and traditions, even when living oceans apart.” – Alanna Glassman, Chatelaine, Sept. 11, 2014
Various researchers have identified certain genes that are common to most centenarians, but no one has identified one or more genes that a majority of extremely long-lived individuals (107 and over) have in common.
“The truth is that there isn’t any secret to longevity. It’s just about taking good care of yourself by staying active, killing all of the assassins, and eating healthy. You do that, and who knows? You might live as long as I have!” –Janette Clarendon, 109
Below is a list of ten supercentenarian women and facts about their long life-how they lived for over a century and what the secrets were to their longevity.
Jeanne Calment, a French woman is known as the world’s oldest person who made it a few months over age 122 and died in 1997. In her last few years she was described in the news media as “doyenne of humanity”. An interesting fact about her was that she gave up her habit of 2 cigarettes a day only because she could not see well enough to light up her cigarettes and did not want to ask others to do it for her. Answering a question about secret to her long life, she said “God must have forgotten me”. She used to ride a bicycle until age 100 and ate over 2 pounds of chocolate every week. At age 115 she fractured two bones by falling. Her memory also began to fail. She was born in 1875 before the inventions of automobile, light bulb and airplanes. She was a short woman with height of only 4’ 11. She outlived her husband, their only son and the only grandson too.
Emma Morano, an Italian woman, was the last verified person who was born in 1800’s and had seen 3 centuries. Born on Nov. 29, 1899, she believed the secret to her long life was eating 3 eggs a day, 2 of them raw for over 90 years, living a single life for many years and genetics. Emma Morano was the eldest of her siblings. Her mother and several sisters had a long life too but they all passed away before her. She got married in 1926, had her only child in 1937 but he died after a few months. A year later Morano left her abusive husband and lived a single life. She passed away while sitting on a rocking chair peacefully at age 117.
Violet Mosses Brown
Violet Mosses Brown, a Jamaican woman is believed to be the oldest woman alive at age 117 and first ever verified supercentenarian from Jamaica. She was born in March, 1900. She doesn’t believe there is a secret formula for her long life but hard work, love for church and people led her to a long happy life. Violet Brown still lives in the same house she was born in. She eats what she wants but avoids pork and chicken. Brown does not suffer from any illnesses except mild deafness. In an interview she said “I live by the grace of God and I am proud of my age!”
Adele Dunlap was the oldest American woman living in New Jersey, died at age 114. She was born on Dec 12, 1902. She was survived by two sons, six grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren. Dunlap didn’t feel any difference being the oldest American person. Adele Dunlap would often tell she was a decade younger when asked about her age. She didn’t have a particular diet, ate anything she wanted and smoked a part of her life. Adele Dunlap was a teacher to third graders for five years. After that she got married, became a housewife and raised her own children, two boys and a girl. When Adele was 87, in 1989, she moved to live with one of her son’s family. She was able to drive a car until she was 89. At age 99, she moved to a nursing home. She was wheel chaired at age 110 but was able to still walk with a walker. At that time, her eyesight was good enough to read, however her hearing was poor.
Dr. Leila Denmark
“Pizza is going to support a whole generation of cardiologists!” — Dr. Leila Denmark, 114
Dr. Leila Denmark was the oldest known practicing pediatrician when she retired at age 103. She was born in Georgia and grew up on a farm. She was the third of her eleven siblings. She was a science teacher in high school for two years before she enrolled at the medical college of Georgia. Dr. Denmark was the only woman in the class of 52 students according to National Library of Medicine biography. She was an amazing pediatrician; parents claimed she could tell what was wrong with the child just by looking at them. In 1932, when many babies died of whooping cough, Dr. Denmark helped develop a successful vaccine. She had a book written in 1971 “Every Child should have a Chance”. Dr. Leila Denmark’s secret to longevity was drinking only water, not eating refined sugars and having proteins and vegetables with every meal. Practicing was her passion; she admitted if she could live it again, she would do the same thing.
Nabi Tajima is the 2nd oldest woman living in the world and oldest woman in Japan. She said “eating delicious things” was her secret to long life. Her diet is rice mackerel sushi, ramen noodles and beef stew. Nabi Tajima also said, “You have to learn to relax, eat and sleep to get a good long life.” Nabi Tajima had 9 children and has even seen her great-great-great grandchildren. As of September 2015, Tajima has over 140 descendants.
Sarah Knauss died in her sleep, sitting peacefully on her favorite chair at age 119, making her one of the oldest person of the world. According to her great -great granddaughter she was very generous, humorous and always smiled. She thought it was humorous to live that long and told joke for how long she will live. She was born September 24, 1880 and died just 2 days before her third century. Her height was even smaller than most other supercentenarians, 4’ 7. During her interview in 1998, replying to a question regarding her long life Knauss said to keep busy, work hard and don’t worry about how old you are. As a seamstress, she always made her own clothes. She had no known illness at time of death other than being almost totally deaf. She was so old that she lived to see her great-great-great-grandchildren.
Delphine Gibson is 113 years old supercentenarians, born in South Carolina on August 17, 1903. She is currently the oldest of the seven verified American supercentenarians alive. Her spouse is not alive anymore and has a son in his 90’s. She credits her longevity to having faith in God. Gibson enjoys Southern food and taking naps. Gibson also enjoys singing and humming. She became blind a few years after her husband’s death and was granted a handicapped parking space for her and her caretaker. To honor Delphine’s 112th birthday, the whole week was announced as “Delphine Gibson week” by the mayor of Huntingdon.
Elizabeth Bolden, also known as “Lizzie” was born on August 15, 1890 and was 116 of age at time of death. She suffered a stroke in 2004 and spoke very little after that until she died in 2006. She was rarely seen in public as she was unable to communicate -according to her family. When asked about her long living secrets in an interview, she said “I don’t know”. John Bolden, Lizzie’s eldest grandson said, “she was the sweetest grandmother.” She had a sharp memory until towards the end and was fond of lollipops and ice cream.
Elizabeth Bolden worked with her husband and did only one job all her life. She worked as a cropper and tenant farmer, hand picked cotton in autumn months. Lizzie had very little education, she could barely read or write.
Elizabeth Bolden had 40 grandchildren, 75 great-grandchildren, 150 great-great-grandchildren, 220 great-great-great-grandchildren and 75 great-great-great-great-grandchildren.
Veronica Forstner lived from May 3, 1905 to September 29, 2015. The 112 year old supercentenarian had a wonderful life till the end with fewer health issues. She got the newspaper daily, watched television and attended church every Sunday at the nursing home she was living at. Just like most other supercentenarians, her vision was fine, but hearing was not so good. She spent most of her life being a farmer’s wife, living outskirts of New Ulm. When asked about her longevity, she chuckled – “sleeping a lot.” Forstner had 39 grandchildren, 70 great-grandchildren and 35 great-great- grandchildren.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the post. It’s very interesting to know how people lived a very long life. Have any questions or comments? Please share below.